The intricate geometric shapes on display on the ceiling at Ojigkwanong

Look Up: Indigenous Work of Art Covers Ceiling at Ojigkwanong

Carleton’s Ojigkwanong centre, part of the university’s Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education (CACE), is now sporting a new intricate permanent ceiling installation called the Light Keeper, made by Manuel Báez, an associate professor at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism in the Faculty of Engineering and Design.

Báez had help from his architecture students and consulted with Ojigkwanong’s renowned architect, Douglas Cardinal. The design is based on the theme of light and on the fact that Carleton’s campus is on the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin nation.

A Feat of Art and Design

The Light Keeper, a tribute to the late Anishinabe elder William Commanda, is an interconnected, woven assembly and support structure made of bands of birch plywood with coloured wire-mesh highlights at key locations.

“The birch bands are joined together with stainless steel fittings that serve as ‘beaded’ connections,” explains Báez. “Overall, the ceiling is composed as modulating patterns within the overall collaborative weave, with their configurations and interconnected parts envisioned as metaphors for Ojigkwanong’s vision and focus.

“The design originates from one singular band of birch plywood with its ends overlapped together to create a circular frame recalling the basic frame of the traditional native drum. Thus, the basic design elements are the circle, the drum and the braided and/or woven ‘sounds’ emanating from this source.

“The very centre of this assembly is inhabited by light as a glowing sun or ‘morning star.’”

A Centre of Culture for Students

Ojigkwanong, which is located in Paterson Hall and opened in late 2013, is a hub for student activities throughout the year, from academic study sessions and workshops to social gatherings, cultural events, visiting Elders and more. The centre has a kitchenette, lounge and study space, computer lab and printer, telephone booth, Elder’s room and a study room.

The Light Keeper installation contributes to Carleton’s commitment to ensure Indigenous cultures, traditions and worldviews are respected and represented at the university through research, visibility and education.