Why do we paint Old Jeremiah, dress The Begging Bear, and rub The Gryphon Statue?
The University and the city of Guelph have a number of prominent statues and public installations. These include Old Jeremiah (the Cannon), the Begging Bear, the Gryphon Statue, the Family in the Fountain, Garbasaurus, John Galt, The Blacksmith Fountain (Hammer and Tongs), and mostly recently, John McCrae (of “In Flanders Field” fame).
They call themselves the #StationaryCrew (yes, it’s a hashtag; they are all active on Twitter).
Why were these particular objects created? What do they “mean”? Why are they on Twitter? And why have they become so beloved and iconic?
This course, one of the First Year Seminars at the University of Guelph, will explore the nature and importance of these objects to the Guelph community. In doing so the class will create an online guide to these installations that will bring their stories to life.
Tours and wayfinding tools of cultural objects are lens to view and understand a variety of different issues: impact of new technologies, cultural differences about the meaning of the art/objects, opportunities to be interactive with those on the tours, and a chance to understand how these objects (art pieces, memorials, iconic institutions) create community.
Perhaps the central question of the course is:
What do these icons tell us about the nature of community?
Because the #StationaryCrew are on Twitter they have public personae that enhance their presence and extend their connection. This curated personality and interactivity may or may not be consistent with their original intent. In fact, the identities of those behind the accounts are a closely guarded secret (which we will respect) so it is hard to know if they are “legitimate” (whatever that means in this context). It is anticipated that the members of the #StationaryCrew will be active participants in the course and feature of the resulting online resource.
Through the course students will engage with the community to discuss the meaning and value of the objects. Creating the guide will require the students to assess the role of cultural tourism and the meaning these objects bring to the community.