Illuminative Forest of Storytelling at the Museum

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A special exhibit opened March 23rd at The Museum in downtown Kitchener and runs until May 21st. I'd read the article by Barbara Aggerholm in The Grand Magazine (January/February issue 2017).

Writer Barbara Aggerholm, in her article,"Seeing the forest and the trees," called it a "multi-disciplinary art project" that used "tree concepts to explore belonging, community ties and other big questions about modern life." Indeed pictures in the magazine showed their apartment filled with the structures that would soon inhabit the Museum's third floor.

The concept intrigued me and knowing at least one storyteller, Mary-Eileen McClear, who was involved in the project, I purchased tickets and awaited the event.

My husband and I attended the opening night and listened to the various speakers that evening, including the initiators and creative spirits of Carl Hiebert and his wife, Deb Cripps.

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With iPad in hand, and some help from the Museum's tech specialist, we connected to the stories via internet and using the QR code reader and heard many of the stories of those trees: The Freedom Tree, The Elder Tree, Atonement Tree, Resilience Tree, and Serenity Tree, just to name a few.

I mentioned to my husband that evening that my father, who was passionate about trees in the environment, would have appreciated many of these stories and pieces of art.

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I knew that I wanted to go back again and experience the ones I hadn't got to, and listen to some of the other stories again. I had opportunity this past week when a friend was visiting from Nova Scotia. Deb,her Mom, and I went to The Museum together on Friday afternoon and listened to and appreciated the stories.

It was easy and delightful to plug into the stories again. For Deb and her mom, it was the first time. We nodded in agreement over some of the stories and chuckled over moments in other stories we found humorous. Listening to the oral interpretation of the readers was as enjoyable as seeing the trees and seeing them.

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This exhibit runs until May 21st and so if you want to see it, go soon. The artists hope to tour this exhibit to other provinces in Canada. I hope they get the funding to do so as this is most worthwhile and applies to people across the country. What's more, it would be good to see this in book form some day, the art and interpretation beside it. That I would love. How do I tell the creators about that idea?

One last weekend, if you want to see it. It's an amazing piece of work.

photos by C. R. Wilker unless otherwise noted.