GO BIG OR GO HOME
Many months ago I was asked to paint a mural for my hometown and it finally happened last week! This was in conjunction with a brand new ART festival highlighting emerging music, murals and an all night art crawl. Andrew Knapp and Christian Pelletier from We Live Up Here, are the creators and the heart and soul of this event they named UpFest. Sometimes you say YES even when your fear is screaming HELL NO. Sometimes you say YES because you know this experience will change you, take you out of your comfort zone. Shake your insides. And ultimately, make you grow.
I had to face some serious fears my friends: hEIGHTts, Vulnerability, painting in PUBLIC, being sEEn. I was worried about choking under pressure, ridicule. Trolls. I had NEVER painted on a wall before, never mind a bricked one and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull it off. Would it even look like my work? The first stroke of paint I slapped on the brown bricks brought tears to my eyes.(What will I do with this rough surface with cracks and grooves?) I was terrified and already regretting my decision.
I kept moving forward, pushing back the lump in my throat and soon a team of support began to form. It took three LONG days to paint this mural. It took a village to make it happen. A scissor-lift and a harness. Orange cones. LOTS of water so we wouldn't pass out from the heat. It took people with heart: my mom, aunts Suzanne and Laurette, cousins Julie and Pierre, my son Owen, Jim and Denis, my right-hand-scissor-lift-painting-man. It took paint from Barrydowne Paints, a course (Working at Heights) from Norcat (Stan McDonald), a lovely sponsor from Northern Cancer Foundation, a wall/building from Mr. Gregorini, a very understanding Family Dental Clinic (and customers) and finally the team at UpFest.
For the last five years, I have been painting and writing SOLO in my studio, safe from the outside elements, in control of my environment. Painting outside, surrounded by people, onlookers, and pedestrians has cracked me open. Public Art is well, public. This mural does not only belong to me. It belongs to all of us. It makes me wonder how else I may connect with the people in my community. It makes me want to reach out more, leave the studio once in a while. Have a conversation with a human. A face to face experience. Old school, you know? I can't say whether or not there will ever be another mural, but I am so happy I said YES, in the end.
I am deeply honoured to have my work on the wall of our downtown core where other people can take it in. I hope it brightens their day and encourages them to paint, write, do something outside their comfort zone, or at least take a walk a little more often. I am proud of this work. I am grateful it has been so well received, widely shared and loved. For those of you interested in the meaning behind this mural, here it is:
Dear Sudbury, I Love you. (my hometown you guys)
The blue chevron represents our many lakes.
The black represents our black rock.
The green represents our re-greening efforts/success.
The brown/silver/copper represents our mines.
The woman represents mother nature.
The trees represent life/hope/future.
The antlers represent my Métis roots and our connection to the animal world.
Find it here in the world.
You can see the transformation below.