Claudia Salguero

Cross-Culture Communication

Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures”.

-Wikipedia

 And this exactly what I have witnessed through the creation of “Canadian Pride, Harmony in Cultures” community mural for our Hunt Club – Riverside Community Centre.

20170711_143237.jpgMembers of my diverse neighbourhood, (all genders and ages 14 and up) originally from, or with ancestry from countries like Peru, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Congo, Ghana, Poland, Britain, Syria, Mexico, Holland, Lithuania, Quebec, France, Lebanon, Venezuela, Hungary, China, Sudan, Scotia, Ukraine, Egypt, Germany, Russia, Ireland, Sweden and Turkey, have been part of the creation of this mural.

20170711_144950.jpgSince mid-April when we had our first three brainstorm sessions until now, we have had 31 community art sessions. With the exception of three teen girls that came along with a friend, we are new to each other and this has been a gift for each of us and for the community: interesting conversations, new friends, cultural and generational exchanges and collaboration moments.  I can’t be happier or more thankful!

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I love people, making new friends and learning form the different cultures around. People participating in community projects definitely love people too and for all of us these thirty-one sessions together, creating art pieces that represent our countries of origin, have been a fun growing experience.

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Among all the pieces of the mural there is one that represents Aboriginal Canadian Cultures from Ocean to Ocean (Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic) and their relationship with Mother Nature. This piece has brought another gift to all of us: the opportunity to learn from, share with and meet aboriginal artists and members of the different Indigenous communities.

21246169_10159369596280271_4163725837992617175_oI have approached Aboriginal institutions like Wabano, The Inuit Children’s Centre, the Kabeshinan Minitig Pavilion at Victoria Island and met some amazing aboriginal artists. They have been all very kind and generous and are pleased with the fact that we are asking for their guidance.

IMG_20170824_075420I had the privilege to be invited by Indigenous Artist Doreen Stevens, to help in painting a Tipi (as a cultural exchange) for the eight annual World vintage rugby event at Kitiganzibi First Nation reserve in Maniwaki. This Tipi, representing their Anishinaabe clans, was created for a cultural exchange with Maori IWI Elders, people of Aoeara from New Zealand. Doreen was the artist doing the tour of the clans to the Maori Elders attending the rugby event.

During my visit I met kind artists who taught me about their culture and guided me in choosing a common image to represent the Algonquin culture and all the cultures that inhabit the lands from the centre of the country to the East Coast in my mural.

I got to paint an Eagle for the Tipi! The leader of the Bird Clan that represents the spiritualism for the people and guide their vision, the bird that brings the prayers to the creator, the knowledge keeper… What a privilege and wonderful experience…!

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IMG_20170823_123205I met also with a group of Inuit youth and with Ruth Kadlutsiak an Elder quilt maker at the Inuit Children’s Centre and we talked about the best image to represent them. One of the very special things about this meeting was the presence of Alice and Brian, a Chinese couple, resident of Hunt Club – Riverside, who has been a very important part of our mural painting team and who spent 15 years living up North.  Between Ruth’s knowledge and wisdom, the suggestions of the Inuit youth and Brian and Alice’s vision our meeting was a success and we got to define the image to represent the Inuit Culture in our mural.

21125678_10159363262350271_506995915800443348_oInquiring about West Coast culture I have had the pleasure to speak with Bill Montgomery and Vincent Kicknosway, two exceptional and knowledgeable artists.  We haven’t met yet but the exchange has been very educational and generous.

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21167910_10159369617830271_3031037953340098029_oNext week, Algonquin artist Doreen Stevens and her daughter Charlotte, Inuit artists Ruth, Sailym and Jasmine, and possibly Bill Montgomery or Vincent Kicknosway West Coast artists will join us to paint the Aboriginal piece of our mural!

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If somebody asks about the importance of Art in Cross-cultural communication and community building, this would be a beautiful example.

A tribute to Claudia Salguero.
The Mural Painting Community Project is analogous to the United Nations. The function is the same, a group of very different people get together to do something worthwhile. The reason for our success is, we checked our egos and indifferences at the door. If the leaders of the world would follow our example, the protection of this planet and world peace could be achieved.

I have to pay tribute to our very artistic, talented and warm hearted  facilitator Claudia Salguero who held our hands and lead us all the way.

Claudia, I will not be surprised if someone at the UN sees this tribute, they would be knocking at your door to give you a portfolio to be in charge of world peace.
Chao,
Alice Wong

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Margit Hideg

Visual Art in Local Language Classes

On May 17, 2017  new Canadians created colourful art pieces for The Wisdom of the Trees arts project during their regular English class at the Beaverbrook Library.

As each participant becomes a part of the installation, they acknowledge their position in our human forest: in their community. Margit asks each artist to visually describe how their roots influenced their choices in life and share these stories with the group.

It was interesting to see how the universal language of visual art helped to communicate various ideas of identity with the participants in each wokshop. Everyone was interested to find out how we define Canadian Identity. I chose to work with the idea of trees and forests which I thought symbolized how this multicultural country accepts and celebrates diversity.” says Margit as she reflects on this workshop.

This was another opportunity to collaborate with a language teacher and create a learning environment in which students are working with a professional visual artist alongside the language teacher.

It was fascinating to see how art making stimulated students’ vocabulary, command of syntax, and use of metaphor.  This experience demonstrated how teachers can use visual art as a powerful tool to help  language learners encounter language in dynamic ways, build vocabulary, and make rich cultural connections. Participants were able to practice strategies for engaging with works of art and collaborate with peers to develop connections. While the emphasis of this workshop will be on teaching foreign languages through the visual arts, this method is also applicable to teaching any other discipline. Many teachers feel that through integration of the arts into their academic lessons students are able to learn more deeply because they use varied ways of thinking and problem solving.

One artist rights “Peace, harmony and diversity” on her tree. Another draws the flags of the countries that she has lived in and another simple writes that she drew her tree beside water because she feels the need to live close to the water. Another draws the roots of her tree in gold and writes that they represent her family members who are so good, they are represented by the colour gold.

Margit adds: “Artmaking in a participatory setting becomes a process of discovering within us our inner child, the sensitivity needed toward fantasy in everyday life. Each creation becomes a cosmogram holding the frequency of love and curiosity needed to maintain our creative energy. This simple change of consciousness carries the potential for us to look around and see how life shines. Once this change is made it was easier for students to open up and translate their artwork into words.”

It was a great experience to bring some extra fun to our local library language lessons! We hope that the participants will continue to use art as a way to relax and organize their thoughts in a visual way.

Margit Hideg, June 2017