On returning from doing our second afternoon of walling demonstrations for the NCC in the Gatinerau Hills we stopped by Remics Rapids Park on the Ottawa River Parkway. We were attracted to the sight of a bedrock shoreline spectacularly dotted with the balanced rock sculptures by a 63 year old man by the name of John Felice Ceprano. John has a contract with the NCC to do work balancing stones and this year he is exploring the theme of space and community. Even to those who have been working with stone material all day, these stone structures are a refreshing treat to the eye.
John has been balancing 400 million year old rocks here for nearly 20 years. He loves what he does and is ready to talk with anyone about his work. He says life is not so much 'short' as 'fast'. He sees the need to be creative and not try to rush through life but recognize ways to slow down and enjoy the here and now.
His hands tell an amazing story. They are weathered and beaten up. They show the wear and tear of a life of lifting moving and balancing rocks. In 2002 he told us he got his right hand crushed by a 300 pound rock. Looking back on it he recognized even then what a life changing experience it was to be. When he eventually got back to balancing rocks after his hand started to heal his whole approach to what he did changed.
I talked to him about the concept of 'thinking with your hands' and though he agreed he said he thinks with his whole body now. He uses his stomach, his thighs, his forearms, even his neck and head in order to methodically maneuver the large stones into position.
We had to have a go at balancing some stones too while we were there. He pointed us to a place on the rocks where we could work and Evan and Akira quickly produced an 7 foot tall 'rock- balanced' free-form skyscraper.
Next week at Remic Rapids Park – Sunday 12th 4pm there will be interpretive dance amidst the balanced rock sculptures of Johns. Cilla Vee is the dancer and the event is called “From The Soul: Be Still And Know” - movement workshop & presentation . It should be a visually compelling thing to see and well worth checking out if your in the Ottawa area that weekend.