Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
CHICAGO - When April Tsosie, Diné, was approached by Cindy Starr, the events coordinator at the American Indian Center of Chicago, to be the lead artist for a project that would contribute art to an icon that served as a backdrop on stage for the Dalia Lama, she immediately said yes.
Tsosie is a Positive Paths Youth Worker at the urban Indian agency, located in Chicago's Uptown. Tsosie is a fine artist with work at various galleries.
On Sunday, the art work was part the backdrop at the University of Chicago's Pavilion. The American Indian group contributed a nine-pointed star of the Baha'i faith for the Sunday event that drew a crowd of 8,000. The American Indian Center of Chicago was among 20 different organizations or religious groups to contribute art to the backdrop.
April Tsosie, Diné, Artist Behind the Star
"We incorporated the nine faith symbols within the Baha'i faith. The center represents the number four using tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass that point outward to represent the four directions, the four seasons, the four colors that are recognized by most indigenous tribes, and in some tribes the four sacred mountains," said Tsosie, as she describes the contributed art. "The edge if the star is about six-inches deep and we decorated that space with ribbon of the colors red, yellow white and black, and then outlined the star with led lights all around. There is a rainbow circling the center. The assembled sculpture has a tree sapling at its base."
The group led by Tsosie that contributed the art for Sunday's event consisted of some 15 different American Indian tribes.
"We had a diverse group that ranged from nine year olds to Indian elders in their 70s. In all there were 20 members of our community," Tsosie told the Native News Network. "This was an opportunity for four generations in our community to work together. It went well and everyone got along with each other well. They all showed respect for each other."
As part of the project, the group went to the Baha'i Temple in suburban, Wilmette, where the group learned more about the Baha'i faith. They wanted to show respect for the faith and contribute art that was respectful. In all, the group met for six sessions over the course of as many weeks for two hours each session.
The sculpture will be displayed on Chicago's lakefront and the sapling will be planted.
At the end of the Dalai Lama's lecture, he watered each sapling.
posted July 19, 2011 7:47 am edt
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