“The Inuits Send Us a Canary,” drawing by Tania Godoroja
Tania Godoroja on Canada:
“Canada is an immense raw canvas of mostly untamed landscape, vast geographic remoteness, tenuously connected but resolute communities, and a still flourishing indigenous vitality embedded in its core. These characteristics render a remarkable uniqueness to the Canadian consciousness, and a pervading thematic underpinning for the World Wall.
West coast aboriginal tribes have long conceptualized the world as being ‘sharp as a knife’. That edge is the frontier where human settlement and human thought, everything we know as civilization, confronts wildness. That edge is also the place where, in Canada at least, two ways of being in the world, the indigenous and non-indigenous, still co-exist. These two ways of being yield two kinds of human condition, each with its own set of circumstances. They collide at the knife’s edge, usually with disastrous, rarely with brilliant, results. The history of this collision tells us that the world is impoverished each time an indigenous culture falters. Yet these different ways of thought are, as potential, within everyone. We can reach into ourselves and find two versions of life, two ways of speaking and knowing. This is the gift of collaboration, but it is also the imperative of our survival as humanity.
Knowing where that edge is, and restraining its broad sweep across the landscape is critical to our future. In many areas of the planet this boundary has been obliterated; in a few it remains assaulted but intact—Canada is one of those. Canada has the talent and capacity to safeguard this frontier, to keep the world sharp. And this, if sustained, will be one of Canada’s greatest legacies for the future. How to instill in the World Wall imagery of Canada that is both novel and iconic while remaining unclichéd and critically relevant is perhaps the most daunting challenge facing the Canadian project.”
Tania Godoroja meets with Sheila Watt Cloutier
Canadian Artist Tania Godoroja meets with Sheila Watt Cloutier, nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to save the Inuits of the Arctic. Tania shows her drawings entitled: “The Inuits Send Us a Canary”. Sheila looks surprised as she sees Tania’s drawings considering how to make an image that speaks to the loss of an entire way of life for the Inuits so beautifully articulated by Sheila Watt Cloutier’s writings on the effects of global warming on her homeland. To read The Canadian Environment Awards Citation of Lifetime Achievement Remarks by Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2006, please click here.
Tania Godoroja On the Future:
Today we face unparalleled threats to human well-being on many fronts. Several of these, like climate change and massive human displacement, have horrendous consequences and demand all our attention. Artists are a critically vital part of human culture and, as artists, we have an opportunity today, unique to our generation, to halt the mass extinction of cultural diversity that has existed for thousands of years. Globalization, driven by the logic of the capitalist enterprise, is extinguishing this diversity at an accelerating rate, plunging us into a dark world of blandness and uniformity. The enlightened among us have sufficient difficulty restraining this trend, let alone reversing it.
How will the next generation deal with this? Sir Ken Robinson has observed that children entering school this year will be retiring in 2065 and we are supposed to be educating them for this career. And yet none of us have any reliable idea of what the world will look like in five years. What, then, should be we teaching them?
I think that the hope for the future lies in the creativity of the children we are now raising—the ‘turning point’ generation. Contemporary education desperately needs new priorities, ones that put the highest value on novel ways of thinking and doing things. This may mean that literacy and technological proficiency are no longer the keys to finding one’s place in life, or to solving our humanity’s greatest problems. Ingenuity, unbridled experimentation, and rampant curiosity will provide the means for global survival.
Tania Godoroja On Herself:
I am a child of the Americas, swimming now in the mainstream of the immigrant confusion in Canada. Born in Rio de Janeiro of Russian parents. who in 1950 emigrated from northern china to Brazil, I moved at a young age to Canada and, eventually, settled on the west coast where I live today.
I have been well nurtured by this incredible country, and I remain passionately inspired by its rugged embrace. I am by nature and practice a painter, and although I have achieved no singular artistic greatness in life other than to be loved and to have loved, I have painted all my life for the pleasure of it.
My career has been as a teacher, but my profession has been to immerse myself in the immediate world of family, friends, and children and imbue them with the revolutionary spirit that drives all great art.
I have learned from those I love and admire that when we concentrate on probabilities we are tempted to take what has happened as an instruction for what should happen in the future. In other words, we deny ourselves possibility. On the other hand, if we understand the potential of a situation, what we may learn from the past is not that we should continue to adhere to it and reinforce the trend but, rather, that we should stand in the way of it and oppose to it one of another kind of future based upon the potency of the human spirit and imagination.
We all surround ourselves in life with like-minded characters, and we forget how different other experiences are, how different the realities that the people in our own communities face. All of us learn and live in relationships with one another; much of our reality lies in how these relationships take shape, evolve and fade. What excites me about the future is being challenged to move beyond the bounds of community in this experience, to engage with this phenomenon at a global level.
What makes us who we are? Is it the things we inherit, the hard-wiring of the mind and genes, or is it nature’s inspired embrace? Or is it something more incomprehensible, an emergence of complexity from primal beginnings? Language signifies that much of who we are does not lie within us as individuals so much as between us. Art elevates the significance of language to the celebration of imagination itself, regardless of who we are. The exploration of this celebration is my personal goal in working on the Canadian Project for the World Wall.
Raffi and Tania, Fellow artist and Islander Raffi writes a song about global warming.
Cool It (to hear the song click here)
Words and Music by Raffi
(c) 2007 Homeland Publishing a division of
Troubadour Music Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.