Kayden Hill-Pitchenese can’t wait to put her work on ice.
“Excited and proud,” the St. John’s High School Grade 10 student says of how he feels about participating in this year’s Warming Huts: an arts and crafts competition. architecture on ice. “It’s really cool.”
Hill-Pitchenese is one of a group of Winnipeg high school students who have been selected to create a piece of public art that will be displayed on the frozen Nestaweya River trail in The Forks this winter alongside works by famous local and international artists.
Although schools have participated informally in the past, this is the first time Manitoba divisions have been invited to submit ideas for a project that will be funded through the annual competition.
“When you do something in the public domain, it means something and it affects people,” says Warming Huts producer Peter Hargraves.
“As we seek to celebrate stars in the fields of art and architecture… it is also very important to provide an opportunity for the next generation of stars to rise up.”
St. John’s design – called Azhe’owhich means “paddling backwards” in Ojibway, will consist of eight 3.6 meter cedar paddles supporting the gunwales of a stylized canoe.
The concept was inspired by the pre-colonial importance of canoes, paddles and waterways to Indigenous communities in the region.
The warming hut project has become a school-wide endeavor and an opportunity to learn about local history, says woodworking teacher Aaron Cyr.
“We’re really looking at where the paddle was before it became this iconic Canadian symbol,” Cyr says. “It was a rite of passage for young people to build the paddle, it was a connection to the Earth, it was a canvas for expression.”
So far, dozens of students have contributed to the design, concept, project description and accompanying artwork. It will be a busy semester for the construction team as they work to bring the design to life in the school’s carpentry shop.
Hill-Pitchenese is ready to begin.
“I’ve always had a passion for woodworking,” he says. “Being crafty and using my hands a lot is the main thing I really love about it.”
The design for Azhe’o was unveiled Thursday along with five more heated cabins that will populate the river trail this winter. The competition, which has been running since 2009, received 122 submissions from 33 countries.
The winning concepts — three local and three international — were selected by an eight-member jury.
Wanda Koop is this year’s guest artist. In collaboration with Montreal furniture designer Thom Fougere, the Winnipeg visual artist created NOTHINGa hut built in the snow and inspired by the fifteenth shelters.
“When the whole structure is complete, it will be immersive and luminous and Stonehenge-y,” Koop said at Thursday’s press conference. “I can’t wait to share it with the Winnipeg community.”
Other designs include:
- flowing lands, by students from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba;
- CurtainAlejandro Felix from Spain and Fang Cui from China;
- hay space by Philipp Gmür of Switzerland and Hugh Taylor of Winnipeg; and
- Meanwhile we are still dreaming by Lindo Jia and Jaymon Diaz from the USA.
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