On Sunday, July 29, 2012, I went to the Toronto Zoo and saw all kinds of different vendors that displayed Aboriginal and African arts. The festival surprised me at first, and it was cool seeing non-animal related events happening at the zoo.
The first vendor we went to had beautifully hand-crafted dreamcatchers and beaded bracelets. They were all crafted by Emilie Corbiere; who also happens to be a published author. Emilie writes short stories for children. One of her new books is going to be taught in grades four and six for the coming year of 2012-2013.
Corbiere’s family has a tradition of making First Nations crafts. In fact, Corbiere has been making crafts ever since she was five-years-old. Corbiere even makes bracelets from the bones that came from the animals that her family hunted.
“The men in my family would hunt. It was alright for me; I didn’t really mind,” Corbiere said. “I enjoyed doing the art.”
There was a legend in her family that said, if they did not use every part of an animal, it would never return again and become extinct.
The next booth I went to had beautiful sculptures. They were crafted from soapstone by Yvan Leclerc. Leclerc was inspired by Shona Stone sculptures he saw during a vacation. He now crafts these one-of-a-kind sculptures himself.
“For my first sculpture, I mimicked another sculpture,” Leclerc said. “Soon I started making my own sculptures.”
However, these sculptures were not the only thing on display. Leclerc also threads different beads onto wires that take the shape of small 3-D models. The colourful elephant model was my favourite. He also used different zoo animals.
Penny Nyakiringa also had sculptures made of soapstone on display. “I left Africa in 1973 for six years,” said Nyakiringa, “When I went back, I was so happy to see African art again, then I fell in love with them.” She has worked with African art ever since.
We had a great time exploring the rest of the zoo and seeing the different animals. It was a great opportunity, especially meeting the vendors from different cultures.
To learn more about Leclerc’s art, you can go on www.abantuart.com. Nyakiringa has an art gallery called Sankofa Art Gallery in Toronto. However, it is only open upon appointment. You can contact the gallery at email@example.com