December 14th, 2017

U of L student’s artwork vandalized in coulee near Fort Whoop-Up

By Mabell, Dave on June 16, 2017.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

Vandals have struck again in Lethbridge.

It wasn’t a painted crosswalk they tried to destroy this time, but a work of public art.

University of Lethbridge art student Sarah Russell used painted rocks to create a symbol for unity, on a coulee near Fort Whoop-Up. It was prepared as part of “LandMarks 2017,” a national event celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.

Sixteen universities and 12 of the nation’s leading artists have created 100 works, to be seen in national parks and historic sites from June 10-27.

A public event recognizing Russell’s work was planned for Tuesday. But the university reports vandals recently re-arranged the rocks into a crude image.

“I wanted to create something that was positive out of negative,” Russell says. “I wanted to represent the university, I wanted to represent the Blackfoot people, and I wanted to represent the territory.”

Russell, a Blackfoot woman with Kainai and Piikani roots, explains the rocks were placed to represent the Blackfoot word for “unity.”

Now she’s hoping students and the community at large will help her restore that symbol. As an act of unity, they’re invited to join her Tuesday and assist in its reconstruction. Volunteers are asked to meet at Fort Whoop-Up at 10 a.m.

To create the large-scale work, Russell says, she located 150 suitable-sized rocks, painted them and then carried them for placement along the embankment. When it was completed, the image was large enough to be recognized from University Hall, on the other side of the valley.

The terrain is steep, she warns, and volunteers should wear appropriate footwear and clothing. Once there, they should remain on the lookout for cactuses and snakes.

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