May 30, 2023
For Immediate Release
WATERLOO — Ojibwe artist Michael Cywink has been selected to create an outdoor mural on the southwest wall of the library on Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus. Throughout the summer, he will host engagement sessions for both the Laurier and broader communities to learn about the project and participate in the creative process.
Cywink, a storyteller and educator who engages communities in the visual narrative as part of his artistic process, was chosen through an extensive Call for Submissions process.
The public mural project aims to celebrate Indigenous art and culture, serve as a catalyst for creative and cultural engagement, and express Laurier’s commitment to reconciliation, decolonization, and Indigenization at the university and beyond. It is a collaboration between the Wilfrid Laurier University Library and Robert Langen Art Gallery, Laurier’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and university and community stakeholders.
“I am immensely proud of the role the Laurier Library and Robert Langen Art Gallery have played in bringing this project to life,” said Gohar Ashoughian, university librarian. “This project is building community at every stage — from the collaborative process that brought us to this point, to the community engagement that will be part of the artist’s creation, to the completed mural that will be a testament to Indigenous placemaking, visible to all who pass by it.”
The project supports Laurier’s strategic priority of Indigeneity, which includes integrating Indigenous knowledge and practices across the university and creating an environment in which Indigenous values are acknowledged and celebrated.
“In addition to being a beautiful work of public art, this mural will signify our collective commitment to Indigenous cultural expression on the lands where we are living and learning,” said Darren Thomas, Laurier’s associate vice president: Indigenous initiatives. “This is a step forward in Indigenizing Laurier’s campus, and a celebration of Indigenous culture that will extend well beyond the walls of the university.”
To join a mailing list to learn more about the artist engagement sessions, community members are invited to email the Robert Langen Art Gallery at email@example.com with the subject line Laurier Library Indigenous Mural.
“As an artist, I consider myself a storyteller. I share stories about my culture, our creation stories, my teachings and try to use those stories to help break down walls in support of Indigenous peoples,” said Cywink. “I can’t wait to hear other people’s stories and journeys and try to combine that all into one artistic piece. Representation matters, and I am going to try my best to create something beautiful that not only the Indigenous community, but Laurier will be proud of. Miigwech to everybody who selected me as the artist to take on this project.”
The mural is expected to be completed in late September.
"I am thrilled to see this project come to fruition. The mural will not only share Indigenous teachings and stories, but help to create a sense of inclusion and celebrate diversity on and off the Laurier campus,” said Suzanne Luke, Laurier's university art curator.
Celebrate Indigenous History Month
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