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Designer reflects on symbolism of 2010 Olympic medals
Published Saturday, February 15, 2020 6:52PM PST
VANCOUVER -- During the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, there was a lot of talk about the unique medals that were handed out to winning athletes.
The medals were designed by Corrine Hunt, an Indigenous carver, designer and artist from Alert Bay.
In a recent interview, Hunt recalled how a member of the organizing committee for the games had a chance encounter with her work that led them to solicit a proposal from her. The member was walking through Yaletown and saw a piece of furniture she had designed on display. He went inside and asked for the name of the artist.
"I got an email about it from VANOC asking me to submit an RFP, and I did after a little while, after a little nudging," she said. "I didn't really know what it encompassed, but I had a friend who loves the Olympics who was enthusiastic about me doing that."
Hunt said she based the design of the medals on the concept of the cedar bentwood box. She created a master design that told a new story about the athletes and their community.
"One thing I really wanted to do with the medals, because I'm sharing the First Nations' traditional culture, was to show a contemporariness about it - for it to tell its own story, not to take a story from one of our mythologies," she said.
Each medal was unique, cropped from Hunt's master design for a bentwood "box of treasures." Along with their medals, winning athletes received a silk scarf depicting the master design, allowing them to find the portion of the box their medal came from.
This connection between all of the medals was an important part of the symbolism of the design.
"Two of the sides on the master design have the head of the killer whale, and the other two sides have the body of the killer whale," she said. "The athletes are sometimes individuals, but they work with their community - with their coaches, with their families, teammates - so there's both. There's the individual and the community, and one can't work without the other."
The designs brought Hunt international attention. Since the 2010 Olympics, she has continued her work as a designer of jewellery, furniture and art. She also designed the Canadian snowboards and uniforms for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.