Artist(s): Nancy Deleary
Producer: Railway City Tourism
Completed at the St. Thomas Public Library, the artwork highlights the importance of storytelling, and will captivate the next generation of children who gather to read books and listen to speakers in the outdoor reading garden.
This mural connects with the specific setting at the Library, as well as the surrounding neighbourhood. The upper portion of the artwork, visible from the street, features a fire, row of corn, and an extraordinary night sky, a spectacular setting for the central characters including a storyteller and those gathered to listen by the fire. In the lower corners of the piece, there are animals that will draw visitors into the setting. The muskrat is key to the Indigenous Recreation story, as following the great flood, the semiaquatic rodent brought life back to earth from the depths through a morsel of sand. Viewers will note that the muskrat has a bandolier bag, which has always been a part of First Nations and Native American attire. There is also a mother bear and cub in the design. Similar to the muskrat, the mother bear is wearing a bandolier bag, symbolizing that all of creation has been given a set of original instructions and responsibilities that they have always maintained. The animals are situated in the space to remind human beings that we share the natural environment. This is emphasized by how the bear and cub are positioned on rock formations that visually extend the reading garden amphitheatre. All living things are in the same spot. The bear is traditionally considered a protector and maintains a very close relationship to the earth.
The corn in the design connects to the adjacent roadway, Mondamin Street, as Mondamin is the Ojibwa word for corn. Prompted by this fact, Deleary noted that there are other local street names that reference First Nations culture, such as Hiawatha, Meda, Omemee, and Owaissa. The names were inspired by the work of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet popular in the 19th century who has since earned a mixed reputation. His epic poem ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ features Indigenous characters, and apparently influenced the naming of streets in the Great Lakes region; however, he took considerable license in his work and many would view the poem now as an example of cultural appropriation. With the mural design, Deleary has referenced this historical note while simultaneously rooting the word again in the context of First Nations culture.
Where to Find This Mural
Location: 153 Curtis Street, St Thomas Ontario | Get Directions