Hundreds tell stories through stones at Regina Folk Fest

A public art project is taking shape at Regina Folk Fest with a significant meaning for many who take part.

Public art project accepting contributions all weekend

Artist Janine Windolph set up a public art project at Regina Folk Fest which she said invites people to share their stories through art. (Alex Soloducha/CBC)

A public art project is taking shape, one stone at a time, at Regina Folk Fest with a significant meaning for many who take part.

Organizer Janine Windolph is an artist herself and is also working as an adjunct curator of public programs at the Mackenzie Art Gallery.

The project, called Animating the Grandfather's Stones, is meant to explore the animate nature of rocks, she said.

"In Indigenous culture, all rocks are alive and they're carrying stories from our past. For thousands and thousands of years they were witnesses to life," she said. "We wanted to share some concepts and we also wanted people to know that public art doesn't always have to be permanent."

Windolph said the project started when people came together to wash the rocks and place them in a circular shape, which she said represents the spiral of life.

From there, participants have picked out rocks and infused a story, text, image or colour on them. Then, they tell Windolph or another facilitator their story, who are able to share the meaning of the stones that have been contributed.

Only chalk and pastels have been used so it can be easily washed off later.

Similar to sand art, Windolph said it's meditative in nature and shows the values of the community.

For many young people at Folk Fest, it's also proven to be a fun activity.

One young girl named Kaia Pas said she was going to draw a unicorn on her rock.

"I love unicorns; they're my favourite animal," she said.

Serious topics were also tackled in the project, with some people including their support of the Pride movement on their rocks and one woman struggling with bipolar disorder who wanted to depict that she wasn't alone, Windolph said.

Some people who have come from other provinces or countries and have made Regina their home made art out of that on their rocks.

On Saturday alone, more than 350 people had already drawn on a rock by early afternoon. Windolph said she wasn't expecting the overwhelming support.

"You don't always know how an activity will be but the feedback has been phenomenal. They feel this is a very important piece sharing important values," she said.

Those in Regina can take part in the Grandfather's Stones project at Folk Fest until Sunday evening.