Ceremonial Wickiup (2017)
A collaboration between Donna Brickwood and Greg Slick
Ceremonial Wickiup is a site-specific structure largely based on Native American design. Made of saplings and other natural materials that are responsibly and respectfully harvested according to traditional beliefs, this dome-shaped structure was assembled on July 28, 2017 for Dusklit on the grounds of the Seligmann Center for the Arts in Sugar Loaf, NY. Dusklit is an annual outdoor arts festival curated by Olivia Baldwin and Cody Rounds.
The wickiup features two low entrances, one facing toward the rising sun and one toward the setting sun, a smoke hole at the top, and a long stick or ridge pole that rests in the smoke hole. The pole serves as an activation device for the wickiup, and is repositioned throughout the day to align with the sun. The pole is also an axis mundi, both representing and physically connecting the three worlds of shamanic cosmology: the upper, middle, and lower realms.
Using materials that have been harvested in advance, the wickiup is built along traditional lines with saplings that are driven into the ground in a roughly 10' circular plan. The saplings are tied together creating several arches. The arches are fastened together. Horizontal ligatures made of smaller saplings encircle the frame allowing an outer covering of maple leaves to be attached.
Visitors are encouraged to enter the wickiup, sit down on mats and meditate, exchange ideas, or even lie down and embark upon a shamanic journey. As the sun sets, it shines through one of the entrances to the structure and illuminates the interior, transforming the space and its occupants.
The photos below document the entire six-week process. Click to enlarge them and to read the descriptive captions.