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Drawn to the Flame

Part of Ontario Place's Lumiere: The Art of Light Exhibition

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Embedded in the Canadian psyche are the romanticized icons of a canoe and a campfire. 

Drawn to the Flame fuses these two images. From afar, there appears to be a large bonfire on the shores of Lake Ontario. Closer inspection reveal that six red canoes rise up like giant logs into a campfire form. From within their hull, the warm and comforting glow of flames dance playfully.   


There is perhaps no more primal connecting force to draw people in than the beach-side campfire as its warm embrace fosters comfort, conversation and laughter. This, however, is an unusual blaze inviting a contemplation on the connections between a fire and a canoe.  Why is this beloved vessel ablaze?  


Today, the canoe is primarily considered a craft for recreation. It has, however, a long history as a utilitarian Indigenous technology. Shared with early colonial settlers, it provided them with unprecedented access to the farthest reaches of the landscape. As the canoe radiated outward like a spreading fire, it initiated an historical legacy of resource extraction and displacement. 


A fire provides warmth, comfort, and above all, connections between those who are drawn to its flames.  Equally, it has the potential to burn painfully. This duality is echoed in the canoe: a romanticized Canadian icon with a complex and sometimes painful history. Like fire, Drawn to the Flame ignites thought as it presents an alternative view of this iconic craft.

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