Temporary public art installation set to inspire kindness

A temporary public art installation, Weathergrams for Good, will be on display in Phoenix Square at Fredericton City Hall, from July 9 until mid-fall. The installation, by Fredericton artist Katrina Slade, involves hundreds of colourful strips of paper featuring loving-kindness mantras.

Weathergrams for Good shares messages of loving-kindness with the hope of uplifting residents and visitors and to further inspire them to share similar messages to others,” said Slade. “This project is my attempt to boost collective morale and to spread kindness through our community and beyond. I encourage anyone who interacts with the installation to ‘pay it forward.’”

The project was inspired by a special family friend who taught her about weathergrams and gave her a Lloyd J Reynolds book on the tradition. Reynolds developed the weathergram, short poems written in italic script on a strip of a brown grocery bag, as a way for students to make beautiful things simply and share their calligraphy with others. The western world approach is based on the Japanese Tanzaku, where people write their wishes on colourful paper strips that are then tied on trees during the Tanabata Festival.

Rather than short poems, Slade’s take on the tradition includes bilingual loving-kindness mantras displayed in calligraphy on eye-catching colourful paper. She commissioned Haley Bungay, a local hand-lettering artist, to write out each phrase. The calligraphy was digitized and turned into a stamp, which allowed Slade to produce high-volume weathergrams.

“Eventually, the weathergram becomes ragged and faded from being outside, which is part of the art. It takes on qualities similar to those of a leaf fading in time,” said Slade. “It is considered an object of beauty and wisdom.”

The artist’s website, www.weathergramsforgood.com, includes links to resources about kindness meditation and instructions for creating personal weathergrams from paper bags or other durable paper sources.