Terre Chartrand's Asibikaashi (Spider Woman)

Earlier this summer, we shared our first images of our newest outdoor art installation on social media. The reactions followed fast.

Aerial view of a large digital banner print of a red spider spining a web, installed on a red brick wall of Centre In the Square

"Trigger warning: spiders," replied one person on Twitter with a highly distressed emoji-face.

"I feel bad for all those arachnophobes," added another on Facebook. 

"Beautiful!!!!" declared another on Instagram, on a post that showed no sign of arachnophobes. 

It soon became clear that love them or hate them, no one is truly complacent when confronted with a giant spider. And given the lessons to be learned from this compelling image, that is very much in keeping with the honour and respect local artist Terre Chartrand pays to her subject.

Our newest outdoor art commission, Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) celebrates restoration and connectivity through the Anishinaabe story of Spider Woman. In the artist's words:

"Spider Woman helped bring Grandfather Sun back to the people. You can see it in the webs before dawn - every day she weaves a new lodge and captures the light of the sunrise in the filaments and sparkling dew gathered on her webs.

"It is in the dreamcatcher that Anishinaabe women weave where we remember Spider Woman and how she protects us and our babies. Made with eight connection points, we remember her legs, and placed on a round of willow, we remember Grandfather Sun. The bad dreams get caught in the webs, and the good ones come through the centre. And just like the sun evaporates the dew on her webs, the bad dreams disintegrate with dawn.

"The spider lurks in dark corners, cleaning our homes of pests. She builds her webs, trapping the things that could bite us and hurt us. In the natural world, she builds her webs where mosquitoes and flying insects are most abundant, and traps and feeds on them. Spiders are not to be feared, but protected and respected."

A work commissioned in the context of the pandemic, Asibikaashi functions as both a protective guardian and a call for sensitivity to the interconnected nature of our world. As the spider senses movement through her web, so too are we asked to remain attuned to the many threads of thought and action that draw us together. 

Be sure to check out Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) on your next walk through the Civic District - you'll find her on the wall facing Otto Street and Civic Centre Park, where she will remain on view into 2022.

Close view of a large printed mural of a red spider spinning its web installed on a brick wall with greenery growing belowMany thanks to Westmount Signs for their expert services printing and installing this new outdoor artwork, and for sharing these great photographs.