Call to the Elements – Art Installation in Neighbourhood’s Sacred Space

Call of the Elements at NUUC by Lauren McKinley Renzetti
Call of the Elements at NUUC by Lauren McKinley Renzetti

The Tree of Stewardship , installed on the left, is made from cut, glued, screwed , gouged dremmelled and carved plywood with acrylic paint  stained on top and is six feet wide and seven feet tall. The tree is a representation of The Earth Element, and how we as Unitarian Universalists care for our world: we are the stewards of the planet, we must care for all living things. That is why it has the look of a manicured Bonsai. Lauren’s tree design is influenced by Canadian artist Patterson Ewan, the Group of Seven, and has the intention of whimsy much like Dr. Seuss.

tree of stewardship at NUUC by Lauren Renzetti
tree of stewardship

The Solar Egg is the  second piece, hanging to the right. It is painted in acrylic on plexiglass and is six feet wide  by four feet tall, and is hung above the Wiggle Room. It represents the element of Fire, the Sun in the form of an egg. The Sun nurtures us and gives us light, warmth and also energy. We harness the sun with our solar panels on our roof.  The spirals coming out of the sun are shaped from the Golden Section* radiating out as our seven guiding principals. The way this was painted was by starting with all of the smallest detail elements painted first and then working towards larger and larger components, finishing with the rich blue cosmos in the background.

* The Golden Section is a ratio (roughly 1.618) found in the design and beauty of nature, which can be used to achieve aesthetic beauty and balance in art, architecture and design of any kind.

The Blue Elementals: Air & Water  is the third component. This middle piece, is the  largest piece in the installation measuring, 10 feet wide and 21 feet tall at the peak. This hanging quilt project, was community oriented created by most of the congregation through donation of fabrics, and  small groups from Neighbourhood led by Lauren from March to June of 2014 . The Blue Elementals consists of over 50 panels. One of the first stages was dying cloth to have a series of green, blues and purples for background pieces and to cut up for smaller quilted elements.  Several small groups were involved in making parts. The choir, youth group and all ages of children took part in workshops to create group and individual panels along with smaller elements that represented different aspects of water or air. A dedicated few also helped with the initial cutting out and arranging of background panels. Some of the panels are the choir singing, a kite flying, musical instruments playing, a hot air balloon in transit, spirals, and windmills  which all represent air. Other panels are snowflakes, clouds, waterfall, rain drops, fish in the sea, growing plants, trees, crops, waves, river systems, and silhouettes of people represent water. The biggest challenge with this undertaking was not only its size but having more than forty people contributing different parts of a whole, and trying to piece all of these parts together mindfully.   The seven columns of images are not all the same size and thusly the piece in its entirety is not symmetrical. The most time consuming part was figuring out the placement of each piece within that column and to the columns on either side, staggering the colours and images evenly and then sewing it all together and backing it to be all one piece. The look was to have some recurring themes jumping from column to column. This was to reflect not only, the interconnectedness of our seven guiding principals but also to help acknowledge the interwoven nature of our ecosystem. It had to make sense, with some logic in the placement of celestial bodies far up in our outer stratosphere and move down to the actual surface of the earth at the bottom. After all the air  and water does start at our feet.

~Lauren McKinley Renzetti March 2015.