Community sculpture to serve as legacy for Culture Days

Cheryl Ring works with a community member during Culture Days on Sept. 28, 2019. The collaborative sculpture included reflections on the importance of arts and culture. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Hearts have been showing up a lot recently in Cheryl Ring’s work.

The Prince Albert artist has created a few large-scale hearts, including one for the Heart of the Youth community powwow. They often involve community participation. Saturday’s project was no different.

Ring was set up under the skylight in the Gateway Mall during Culture Days for her latest project, a large heart covered in newspaper pages and hand-written messages about the importance of art and culture.

“This project is called the community heart,” Ring said.

“We’re asking people to consider what art and culture means to them.”

Whatever that is, a word, a phrase or a sentiment, Ring invited people to write down their message onto one of the unique pieces of paper. Those messages were then glued to the community heart.

Ring said she noticed hearts showing up more and more in her work. She decided to choose to explore the symbol further.

“The heart is emblematic of how we all feel, about who we love, what we love to do,” she explained.

‘The heart shape, the cardioid shape, is a symbol that doesn’t have to be explained. People react to it, they instantly know the meaning without any explanation. I think it really touches our humanity. That’s why it’s important to me and why I love what it means. It’s personal for me and I just want to share it.”

The heart itself is built out of rebar covered in styrofoam and quilt batting. The layer just underneath the messages is made up of newspaper. As Ring explained that wasn’t just a construction choice.

“The newspaper is a very important part,” she said.

‘The newspaper is very, very integral to this project. We now the newspaper is the heart of the community.”

Over the past month, Ring has been collecting editions of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. She invited students from Won Ska Cultural School to apply the newspaper layer. The pages weren’t selected, rather, they were chosen randomly.

“It reflects the good, the bad, the people, the happenings, everything. It connects us to the wider community, connects this project and gives it context. There is a reason why newspaper is on there,” she said.

“As you look through here, there’s city council, there’s obituaries, scholarships, fundraisers and advertisements for the Hospice. It’s an integral part.”

For the day, residents young and old stopped by to leave their message. Some were from Prince Albert, others from further north.

Now that the project is complete, it will remain on display, covered in both newsprint and in reflections on art and culture, at the Gateway mall, as a “lasting legacy” of Culture Days.

“People have talked about expressing, balance and how it makes them feel,” Ring said. “When we’ve been discussing what it means to them, whether it’s reflected in their narrative on the heart, expression seems to be at the top of the list. What we have is true community sculpture with sentiments expressing the community and how they feel about art and culture.”