CELEBRATING 125: Culture and collaboration inspire new art installation in Agassiz

Agassiz artist Mike Ewards and Sto:lō artist Zack McNeill-Bobb stand with their collaborative sculpture called “Squaring the Circle,” now on display in Agassiz’s Pioneer Park. The sculpture is part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the District of Kent and represents different cultures and viewpoints all living in one valley. (Contributed Photo/Sabina Iseli-Otto)Agassiz artist Mike Ewards and Sto:lō artist Zack McNeill-Bobb stand with their collaborative sculpture called “Squaring the Circle,” now on display in Agassiz’s Pioneer Park. The sculpture is part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the District of Kent and represents different cultures and viewpoints all living in one valley. (Contributed Photo/Sabina Iseli-Otto)
Agassiz artist Mike Edwards has created art installations across B.C., often teaming up with fellow Agassiz artist Rose Quintana. (Contributed Photo/Sabina Iseli-Otto)Agassiz artist Mike Edwards has created art installations across B.C., often teaming up with fellow Agassiz artist Rose Quintana. (Contributed Photo/Sabina Iseli-Otto)
Sto:lō artist Zack McNeil-Bobb was the first-ever artist featured in a pop-up residency at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison Hot Springs. (Contributed Photo/Sabina Iseli-Otto)Sto:lō artist Zack McNeil-Bobb was the first-ever artist featured in a pop-up residency at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison Hot Springs. (Contributed Photo/Sabina Iseli-Otto)

A new piece of art has quietly manifested in Agassiz’s Pioneer Park.

Local artist Mike Edwards and Sto:lō artist Zack McNeill-Bobb created “Squaring the Circle” in honour of the 125th anniversary of the District of Kent.

Amid the cold December rain, the artists finished the install on Dec. 10. From the base of ancient, glacier-polished stones on up, the sculpture stands as a tribute to the Fraser Valley long before the Fraser Valley ever had its colloquially known name.

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The eastern face of the sculpture is McNeill-Bobb’s work, titled “Slalem te Alemex.” It is a four-faced representation of Turtle Island. The four faces represent the four cardinal directions on a map, and the turtle itself represents a moving home wherever you go, there’s home. The circular shape of the turtle can represent the animal itself, the cycle of the seasons or the world.

“If you look closely, you’ll see that the four faces share one mouth, and this represents diversity with a shared voice, and offers a vision for a better future together,” the artists told The Observer.

The western face of the sculpture was created by Mike Edwards and is titled “Tabula,” the Latin word for table. Edwards chose the name because tables are where conversations happen. “Tabula” is also a reference to the phrase “tabula rasa,” which means a fresh start or clean slate.

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The map on the western face features longitude and latitude lines cutting through the local mountains, rivers and landmarks.

The name “Squaring the Circle” comes from an ancient math problem of trying to create a square that perfectly encompasses a circle. While a square’s area is easy to calculate, the circle is a bit more complicated.

“The circle is a different story,” the artists wrote. “Calculating the area of a circle involves the magical number pi, which is infinite. In other words, you can literally calculate the digits in a circle’s area until the cows come home. The area of a circle cannot equal the area of a circle, but we can come really close.”

The sculpture itself is meant to represent different points of view, different homes and different ways to draw maps, all occupying the same valley.

The 1967 novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Márquez inspired the sculpture.

“This book acknowledges history, colonization, and, at the same time, a respect for science and the true magic of nature,” the artists said. “We hope our sculpture does this, too. We also hope you’ll find your own stories in the artwork. In the end, whether we are defined by squares or by circles, we all share this rich-soiled valley and the river that runs along its bed of polished stones.”

The artists gave special thanks to the District of Kent, district director of community services and projects Jennifer Thornton Agassiz Ready Mix.


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adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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