Painting a picture in the North End
Murals promote critical thinking amongst youth, entice to question national issues
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This article was published 12/09/2016 (2204 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The North End is sporting two new, large murals in celebration of public art organized by Synonym Art Consultation. Drivers and passersby can see both paintings just after the underpass at Main Street and Higgins Avenue on the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church’s building.
The murals are part of the Wall-to-Wall mural festival’s initiative to build a community based on the positive effects of art. The murals were also created as part of North End Arts Week.
On the left side, a mural of two lungs by artists Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka and Cape Dorset artist Parr Josephee, represent the struggles between local communities and the National Energy Board wanting to find oil in the Arctic using seismic testing, which they say endangers the life of marine mammals in Clyde River.
“It negatively affects the people, and it negatively affects all of us down south who have very little connection to the north but when those ties are broken between people, and a way of life, and culture, and food, and history… the potential for disaster is great,” Thompson said. “These are things nobody’s discussing.”
Thompson and Hatanaka, also known as PA System, have been working with kids in Cape Dorset community, the centre of Inuit art, for several years, providing art education for kids.
“We wanted to give kids the idea of what’s possible in their lives regarding art… Young Inuit people from this town especially have a system in place to help them find markets or bring their work to reality,” Thompson said. “Because there’s no education in art in high school, it’s very limited; it’s kind of a crime. In a town where the only economic opportunity is to be an artist, there must be training in arts. That’s our goal.”
Thompson and Hatanaka made it possible for Josephee to showcase his art at an early age. The man holding a fish on the right lung of the mural is a self-portrait of the 17-year-old artist holding the first fish he caught.
“I’m so happy to see people showing up to look at our work. All those good comments make me feel better for painting it,” Josephee said.
The group wanted to create something which would offer new details to discover each time somebody looked at it.
“When you’re creating a piece of public work, you need to create work that’s going to live with people for 15 years. It can’t be preachy, but it should talk about something real… it should also have something that uplifts and at the same time causes us to question,” Thompson said.
For the other mural, a Toronto-based duo is painting a woman mending a heart representing the unity of different nations in Canada and South America. The piece integrates elements honouring the environment as well as the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
Artists Shalak Attack and Bruno Smoky, known as the Clandestinos Collective, wanted to represent their South American roots. Attack’s family is from Chile and Smoky is from Brazil.
“We want to break frontiers and acknowledge that we are all one. So it’s kind of celebrating cultures together. We need to have less boundaries and more connections,” Attack said.
Clandestinos’ style is to tell stories through symbols and details they put into their work.
“Everybody can interpret it their own way, but still you got to waste at least five or 10 (minutes) or half an hour just looking at it, because there’s so much to see,” Smoky said.
Attack said colour and art brings healing to a community. They bring culture and arts to places where people don’t have access to that.
Smoky said the neighbourhood he came from, Brasilandia, is a vulnerable community where some kids have no option other than getting involved with crime. He said artists had impacted his community positively, bringing art to kids and showing them they have another way to express themselves. And the Clandestinos hope to do the same with their work.
The North End Community Renewal Corporation has been contacting business owners in the North End to facilitate the integration of such works of art. NECRC is planning an arts and culture week from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1 with a major event happening on Sept. 30 when local artist Kenneth Lavalee will install his Stars Blanket at 611 Main St.