Built to ROAM

Prison labour, Model T Ford help artist build unique pa­rade float

Calgary Herald - - Entertainm­ent - STEPHEN HUNT CAL­GARY HER­ALD

Xs­tine Cook had a dream, and in her dream was a gi­gan­tic white buf­falo. On wheels. Rid­ing, among other places, in the Stam­pede pa­rade. Ques­tion: how do you build a gi­ant white buf­falo float that sits atop a four­man bi­cy­cle with prac­ti­cally no bud­get what­so­ever, par­tic­u­larly in the mid­dle of an eco­nomic boom that has cre­ated a labour short­age of his­toric pro­por­tions?

An­swer: the Drumheller In­sti­tu­tion, a medium-se­cu­rity fed­eral prison.

The dream led Cook, the mother of three daugh­ters be­tween the ages of one and four, as well as the founder of Cal­gary’s An­i­mated Ob­jects Fes­ti­val, to a lin­ger­ing de­sire to build a “ki­netic” sculp­ture, the sort of gi­ant pup­pet you’re more likely to find in a Terry Gil­liam movie than in real life. De­spite her dream, she was re­luc­tant to build a white buf­falo, wor­ried that she might be ap­pro­pri­at­ing an abo­rig­i­nal sym­bol rather than pay­ing trib­ute to it.

So she set out on a jour­ney of dis­cov­ery, with more de­ter­mi­na­tion than re­sources, that took her places she never thought she’d be, from B.C. work­shops to an Al­berta prison. It’s a jour­ney that ends, in some ways, at Fri­day’s Stam­pede pa­rade, when the white buf­falo makes its de­but, along­side the abo­rig­i­nal group Wan­der­ing Spirit and a drama group called Young Spirit Voices.

Mikael Kjell­ström, Cal­gary Her­ald

From left, Xs­tine Cook, Maezy Den­nie, 4, and Gavin Cos­grove try out the fin­ished white buf­falo float on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon in the Ram­sey com­mu­nity, in prepa­ra­tion for Fri­day’s Stam­pede pa­rade.

Xs­tine Cook

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