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Gerald R. Ford International Airport unveils new sculpture

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Posted at 11:28 AM, Apr 29, 2021

CASCADE, Mich. — Gerald R. Ford International Airport recently unveiled a new sculpture by Jason Quigno.

The purpose is to celebrate the culture and history of Native Americans in West Michigan, according to a news release Thursday.

“Aankobiisinging Eshki-kakamigak,” or “Connection to Creation,” is carved from black granite and Indiana limestone and features important elements in Anishinaabe teachings.

The base features a turtle with a floral design representing the four cardinal directions: north, or giwaydoonig, east, or wabunnoong, south, or zhawanoog, and west, or ningabeunoong.

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On top of the turtle’s shell sits a second feature of fire and flames flowing upward in a spiral pattern suggesting smoke.

The pinnacle features four eagles with their mouths slightly open.

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“One of my purposes in life as an Anishinaabe man and sculptor is to honor my ancestors,” Quigno said. “My intention is to share a portion of the Anishqinaabek’s beautiful history, our stories and rich traditions in stone.”

Quigno explained the significance of each of the sculpture’s elements.

“The turtle, or mizkeekay, and its shell represent the land we inhabit. She is the base the fire and flames sit upon,” he said. “Fire, or ishkoday, is important to the Anishinaabek – through the fire and smoke, our prayers flow up to the creator. Finally, the four eagles, or migiizis, represent and acknowledge the four cardinal directions. The eagles are said to carry those prayers to the creator.”

The airport’s art committee approached Quigno a year ago to commission the piece.

It’s placed near the baggage claim area and adjacent to the future federal inspection station.

“As the gateway of West Michigan, the Ford Airport is in a unique position to share the culture of our community to visitors,” said Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “We are so pleased to welcome Jason’s incredible sculpture in our collection as a reminder of the important history of Native Americans in our community.”

Installation took place on April 22, which was Earth Day.