CFN – St. Lawrence College has a partnership with the native community and offers some programming at Iohahi:io; on the Akwesasne Territory that provides college diploma courses. This campus offers some of the same programs that are provided in Kingston and Brockville but at a convenient location for the Mohawk community.
In September 2009 the Iohahi:io campus offered a 2 year Fine Arts Diploma course to the local community that completed in May of 2011 with 15 graduates. Among the teaching staff was local Artist Sandra Taylor Hedges (Studio One Cat Squared) who taught several of the practical painting and drawing courses.
At the end of the 1st semester three of the students were chosen for a unique project of creating a series of murals telling the Mohawk story of Creation they were Tammy King, Natasha Thompson and Inez Cook Patterson. The murals were to be painted in the entrance way of the school incorporating itself into the already existing sky light structure.
The seven panels each tell a portion of the Mohawk story of Creation which is built around the central figure of Sky Woman. When the panels were complete the Program Co-ordinator Sheila Lafrance spoke aloud to Sandra Taylor Hedges that she wished they could incorporate a sculpture of Sky Woman into the murals especially with the sky light above.
It was then that Sandra decided to make Sheila’s wish come true and create a sculpture of Sky woman as the students had visualized her in the mural images.
“She is naked with the strawberry and tobacco plants in her hands and tangled in her hair” said Sandra Taylor Hedges, “these plants are sacred and an important part of the story, she would not be Sky Woman without them”.
The sculpture is approximately 26 inches long and is made from a combination of metal mesh with a paper mache clay overlay. The tobacco and strawberry leaves are made from acrylic skins to give them a translucent quality when looking at them from below the suspended form.
The sculpture was presented as a gift to IOHAHI:IO at the Graduation Celebration last May and installed on November 18, 2011.
“I wanted to give the school back something for all that they give to the students, the community and for what they gave me by letting me be part of it all for a little while” , said Sandra ” it’s not much but it is what I can do”