Call to the Elements was created/installed in 2014. It consists of three spiritual pieces.
The Tree of Stewardship (photo at right), installed on the left, is made from cut, glued, screwed, gouged and carved plywood with acrylic paint and stain 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 (of the Group of Seven), and has the intention of whimsy much like Dr. Seuss.
The Solar Egg (photo below right) is the second piece, hanging to the right. It is acrylic painted on plexiglass and is six feet wide by four feet tall, and sits 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. It was painted 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 (photo below right) is the third component of this art installation. This piece sits in the middle and is the largest of the three pieces, measuring 10 feet wide and 21 feet tall at the peak. This hanging quilt project was community-oriented and created by most of the congregation through donation of fabrics and small working 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 to dye cloth to have a series of green, blues and purples for background pieces and to cut up material 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 represent the choir singing, a kite flying, musical instruments being played, 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, which represent water.
The biggest challenge with this undertaking was not only its size but having more than forty people contributing to 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, therefore the piece in its entirety is not symmetrical. The most time consuming part was figuring out the placement of each piece within its column and adjacent columns, 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, air and water do start at our feet.
~ Lauren McKinley Renzetti