Sisters Folk Festival Inc. is presenting a free community gathering Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7 p.m. at The Belfry. The event honors the restoration work being done on Whychus Creek, the Deschutes Watershed, and a community art installation along Hwy 20.
The event is part of Sisters Folk Festival’s annual My Own Two Hands celebration, whose theme this year is “Connection.” The event will inform and celebrate the different ways we are all “connected” to the river and creek that make up the Deschutes Watershed in Sisters Country. The evening activities are in collaboration with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, Catch Magazine, the Deschutes Land Trust, and members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
Catch Magazine, an online fly-fishing magazine based in Sisters, will present a short video to represent local anglers’ connection to the river. Information will be presented on restoration and conservation efforts by Deschutes Land Trust, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, and Sisters Elementary School students – who recently released steelhead smolts into Whychus Creek. The evening will conclude with a cultural tribute by Warm Springs tribal members.
Sisters Folk Festival – in partnership with Sisters Elementary School, Sisters School District and the broader Sisters community – is supporting an artist residency with local artist Laura Campbell. The funding for the project is part of the 5-year Studio to School grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, targeted for K-8 music and arts education in the Sisters School District. The grant is currently in its second year of implementation.
The “River Celebration” art installation will be permanently mounted along the Hwy 20 elementary school fence-line, adjacent to the school playground, and be a lasting tribute to the Deschutes Watershed and its importance to our region. The installation includes a scene of the Three Sisters Mountains, with boulders, water shapes, fish eggs, smolts, and varying size of fish. During March and April, all of the students of the Sisters Elementary School participated in the project, along with community members who helped paint the pieces of the installation. In the process of creating the work, students have come to understand the importance of the river and the critical impact it has on the ecology, geology, habitat and biodiversity of Sisters Country. The work will be installed in early May as part of the My Own Two Hands celebration.
Sisters Elementary School Principal Becky Stoughton has been a collaborative partner in the project, working with Sisters Folk Festival and staff to see the project come to fruition. Stoughton says, “We started with dreams and possibilities of what our kids could do to be connected to their school through art … and look what happened. A community has come together – young and old – to celebrate artistic expression and learning about water in the high desert!”
“The art residency and installation is a perfect way to support Sisters students in a community-wide celebration of the Deschutes River watershed and the way we are all connected in the place we live, and how we live within that place. It is a continuation of great work done for many years in outdoor education in Sisters, and will combine science and art integration,” says Sisters Folk Festival’s Creative Director Brad Tisdel.
The goal of the project has been to introduce students to river ecology and the importance of rivers to the health of the environment. Students will also learn how science and art can be integrated, learning by creating art. The wood pieces for the installation were designed and cut at Sisters High School, using hand-tools and the CNC machine recently purchased for guitar- and ukulele-building in the luthier program. The luthier program is also part of the educational outreach of Sisters Folk Festival, in partnership with the Sisters School District.
“Another exciting piece of the project is seeing the art installation take shape by a talented artist and alumni of Sisters schools. It will be part of the process to allow for artistic license by Campbell on exactly how the installation will look,” Tisdel says.
Special thanks go to the Oregon Community Foundation; Orepac building products for donating materials; Hoyt’s Hardware; the City of Sisters; Sisters Elementary School; and the Sisters School District.