Calgary & Alberta Past, Present, Future Count (2019)

Collection of multiple metal figures of animals, people and structures arranged on a wall in a circular fashion

Calgary & Alberta Past, Present, Future Count (2019)

Based on historical Blackfoot petroglyphs, winter counts, story and warrior robes. Calgary & Alberta Past, Present, Future Count reimagines the Blackfoot language of pictographs. These 41 steel pictographs and 3 sculptures represent a snapshot in time, yet within each pictogram, a complete history of that happening can be described, and lead into other stories of your relationship to then, now and future time. One method of tracking time was the spiral, it can be found on many robes.

In Calgary & Alberta Past, Present, Future Count we start in the middle and spiral outwards, each pictogram getting progressively larger until it moves off the wall and onto the floor, a play with the continuum of time and space. Pictographs can mean many things to people, they can trigger memories, memories lead to stories, stories that can ignite our imaginations and remember our past. They can be a meeting place where our common humanity shapes the languages we see, hear, feel, speak and draw. Truly here we see pictograph language as art.

The sculptural work was created for the Calgary Central Library Level 2.

Visit the Calgary Library’s website for more information on the Indigneous Placemaking project (click here)


Over the past few years I have undertaken a number of projects that explore the pictographs that are a part the history of the Blackfoot language. Through winter counts, ledger drawings and petroglyphs, I have come to know the  mnemonic devices and symbolic gestures of the Blackfoot. I have been interested in bringing this 2 dimensional language into our 3 dimensional lived environments. The pictographic language of the Blackfoot is diverse and fascinating, it was often up to the artist to determine the symbol that represented a single word or larger idea. Through time, an artist’s depictions of words and ideas changed, yet often there was recognition of previous artists work, a consistency that binds language, culture and identity together. Deciphering language interests me, trying to find the mnemonic devices that open up understanding and ultimately knowledge. As an artist I have been working toward, as well as becoming part of this pictographic history, honouring traditions, learning languages and preserving it for the future.

There are three floor sculptures, ½ inch steel laser cut into pictographic symbols – the eagle, the Universal tipi and Bison Man. They are approximately 5 feet high on a base. The wall site consists of 41 pictographs, ¼ inch laser cut steel pictographic symbols starting in the center at about 6 inches in height, gradually getting larger to 1 1/2 feet. They are attached to stand offs to give the appearance of floating on the wall. These two works play off each other, bringing the 2 dimensional languages into the 3 dimensional spaces and Blackfoot stories into the present, thus bringing them into our imagination, helping others to understand our way of life and thinking about ways of communicating with each other.


Adrian Stimson – Lead Artist
Ian Grove – Studio Assistant and Administration
Evan MacLachlin- Computer Tech (Scan and size drawings for laser cutter)
Christopher Hilton- laser cut liason, welder, powder coat liason
Project finished, installed and on budget within the terms of the contract.


View larger version of below legend for the figures here (Downloadable PDF)