Saskatchewan

Oh, the places you'll go: using bikes to bring generations together

The Mackenzie Art Gallery and Dunlop Art Gallery have partnered to bring Metis artist Dylan Miner to Regina to work on a community-based art project to build and decorate bikes into beautiful art pieces for local communities.

Artist Dylan Miner is a resident artist in Regina with his project, Native Kids Ride Bikes

Artist Dylan Miner (right) talks with students at the Albert Branch Library afterschool program. The kids are excited to try out their bike they have built and and began decorating with local artist, Stacey Fayant. (Joelle Seal (CBC))

Grease up that chain, and pump up those tires! It's that time of year where cyclists hit the ground spinning, and one artist is in Regina this spring to bring generations together through bicycles.

The Mackenzie Art Gallery and Dunlop Art Gallery have partnered to bring Metis artist Dylan Miner to Regina to work on a community-based art project to build and decorate bikes into beautiful art pieces for local communities.

The project is a continuation of his Anishnaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag (Native Kids Ride Bikes) series. The aim of the project is to connect modern youth culture with the traditional generation.

"Bicycles can become a vehicle metaphorically and literally to think about traditional knowledge, transportation, health, all of these things," said Miner.

While the sessions are about building and decorating a bike for an art piece, Miner said the real art of the project is so much more.

Artist Stacey Fayant helps as Latisha (10) in the afterschool program at Albert Branch Library learns to sew. (Joelle Seal (CBC))

"I started hosting these workshops not so much to revolve around bikes, but as a space to think about what I've been calling the methodology of visiting, hosting these spaces, these times to bring people together," said Miner.

"In some ways, the art work itself is in the sessions where everyone is working together. Its really about building and extending existing social networks and relations between people."

Miner started the series five years ago in his community in Michigan, and the project has since travelled around the United States and Canada.

A local approach

Miner will work with four local artists to engage youth in four local community groups.

"One of the things for me that is beautiful about a model such as this is it can really take on the form of the local community," said Miner.

The local artists involved in the project are Eagleclaw Thom, Stacey Fayant, Keith Bird and Katherine Boyer. These four artists will work with Mother Theresa Middle School, Kitchener Community School, Regina Public Library- Albert Branch and the North Central Community Association.

The local artists met with Miner early in May to build relationships and discuss a vision for the project, and then the local artists take their own ideas and approach to working with the youth in the workshops.

Local artist Stacey Fayant is working with a group of students from the Boys and Girls Club afterschool program at the Albert Branch library. She is working with the youngest group involved in the project.

In some ways, the art work itself is in the sessions where everyone is working together.- Dylan Miner

"They're really quick at learning, they learned how to bead in one session of me just saying, 'This is how you do it,' and they started doing it," said Fayant.

Fayant said that the young age of the group she is working with leads to many unique ways of approaching the project. It's been a mix of visiting while she works, teaching them different skills and techniques, and the kids learning through observation.

Student sews with Dylan Miner

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A student at Albert Park Library's afterschool program learns to sew with artist Dylan Miner. 0:27

Nicole Nugent, coordinator of public programs and community engagement at the Mackenzie Art Gallery, said that the project has been a true relationship between artists and community.

"Having the impact that (Miner) has made on these artists lives then trickle down into the classrooms and into these community groups," said Nugent. "I've seen such a great level of engagement with the youth that we've worked with, there's so much excitement around the project."

After the bikes are finished, they will be popping up around the city at events like Canada Day in Wascana Park and at Folk Festival. In the fall, the bikes will be on display in the Dunlop Art Gallery.

Then, the bikes will be going back to their home communities, with the community deciding how best to integrate the bike.

With files from The Morning Edition

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