Arrowhead Juvenile residents create traveling artworkThe piece, inspired by the traditional colors and meanings behind an American Indian medicine wheel, was unveiled at an assembly in the center’s gym on Tuesday.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
A ceramic cube sculpture with artistic tiles created by kids who were at the Arrowhead Juvenile Center this summer will spend the year as a traveling exhibition at courthouses in the region.
The piece, inspired by the traditional colors and meanings behind an American Indian medicine wheel, was unveiled at an assembly in the center’s gym on Tuesday. The ceremony included a blessing by Skip Sandman, an Ojibwe spiritual leader who asked that the artwork lift the hearts of those who see it.
About 40 to 50 kids contributed ideas and drawings to the piece, according to artist Tonya Borgeson, who has taught a summer art program at Arrowhead
Juvenile Center for the past seven years.
“Everybody that put their hands in clay invested in the artwork,” she said, addressing the group of kids and guests in the gym. “It will travel for a year and live on for 10,000 years. We’ll all be here together —
together in balance.”
The sculpture’s six painted sides represent air, earth, water and fire, the passage of time and seasons, and bear etchings of bears, wolves, drums, a rose, fire, leaping rabbits and people dancing.
“It is really their voices in these tiles,” said Joan Henrik, creative director of the project.
Nate Long, 17, drew a medicine wheel that appears on the black side of the cube.
“I was glad I got to be a part of it,” he said.
Art sessions started in July and lasted about five weeks. Previous projects include the tiles that frame doorways at the center. Pieces have also been donated to regional nonprofits to sell or for auction at fundraisers.
Kathy Trihey, superintendent, said the goal is to make something that represents the kids, culture, family and community.
“Our job is to get them to work as a team, but put it together as one project,” she said. “It’s about seeing the final project.”
Jackson Rudnik, 13, contributed nature images of a swan, clouds and birds to two sides of the cube. He said he’s hoping this sculpture gives outsiders a different perspective on the kids who go through the center. The Arrowhead Juvenile Center provides temporary housing for kids waiting for court hearings or who are in need of residential treatment. It serves St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Carlton and Koochiching Counties.
“I think it’s really, really cool,” Rudnik said. “We’re not all here because we messed up. We’re here so we can change and be helpful.”
The process included planning the design, then carving images of wolves, rabbits, drums, sun bursts and roses onto clay tiles. The pieces were fired in a kiln, connected to a wooden cube and glazed.