A Prince Albert-based artist is hoping to create understanding and awareness about the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada by getting the community involved in a local art project.
Cheryl Ring is working with community members to create 1,200 clay hearts. She’s been spending time with local youth, business and community groups, and Indigenous organizations to make the hearts as part of an art installation she’s working on to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“This is going to change the world because some day, one of these kids is going to speak differently, think differently or act differently about this important issue and that’s where the change starts.” Artist Cheryl Ring.
Ring said the issue of missing or murdered women across Canada has touched her deeply and she wanted to do something to remember the names of those lost and help the local community understand the importance of taking it seriously.
“This isn’t a First Nation issue, it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue,” Ring said. “I just feel that this project has such a wide reach of meaningful intent and really, this is going to change the world because some day, one of these kids is going to speak differently, think differently or act differently about this important issue and that’s where the change starts.”
Each clay heart is also adorned with a stamp of a bear claw before it is dried and fired in the kiln. As she works with various groups to make the hearts, Ring talks about the significance of the heart shape as well.
“It is the universal understanding of all humanity,” she adds. “It is a shape that conveys emotion without words.”
Ring has been working out of a classroom space at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School since January. Some 650 clay hearts have already been completed and she’s hoping to have the rest done by the end of the school year in June.
She’s hoping the hearts will become part of a permanent art installation as a lasting reminder not to forgot those who are missing, or who have been murdered.
Ring said the local missing persons case of Happy Charles, who has been missing since 2017, is one that continues to resonate with her.
“Just like the heart, the word happy has a universal meaning, we all know what the word means without a description,” she told her art group. “She is loved, she is missed and she is very well connected to her family.”.