Artists, youth join creative forces for new downtown mural

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There will be a colourful addition to the city’s downtown this summer, thanks to a collaborative mural project that’s bringing young people and city creatives together through art.

Five Yellowknife-based artists and seven youths are combining their creative forces for the 5052 Community Mural Project, an initiative led by the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT (FFCNWT) and Makerspace YK.

Since January, artists Michael Fatt, Amelie Duval, John Rombough, Terry Pamplin, Christina Moore and their youth team members — ranging in age from 11 to 19 — have been meeting weekly to brainstorm, build on ideas and prep materials for the new mural. The project’s namesake is a nod to the mural’s future location, the FFCNWT building at the corner of 50 Street and 52 Avenue.

The finished product will be a collage of the mural-makers’ collective contributions and unique artistic styles, featuring an underlying theme of family and community.

Set to be unveiled in the summer, the project was made possible thanks to a grant from RBC’s Future Launch Fund, awarded through the Yellowknife Community Foundation (YKCF). The coalition received $20,000 in funding — dollars that paid for plywood and paint, while covering payments for four artists and five youth members.

Mural-makers in action: 5052 Community Mural Project members brainstorm and draft plans for an in-the-works downtown mural, set to be unveiled this summer. Photo courtesy of Korry Garvey.

Since then, the team has grown.

Seven young people and five artists are now onboard, prompting organizers to launch a GoFundMe campaign to compensate the late additions not covered by the initial funding. In just four days, the fundraising effort has brought in over $1,250 — nearly halfway to its goal of $3,000.

“It’s awesome,” said FFCNWT’s Korry Garvey, 5052 Community Mural Project lead, on the outpouring of community support.

“It’s nice to see that people in the community can appreciate the importance of the project,” said Garvey.

Young Yellowknifers involved in the project are learning an outside-of-the-box approach to creating art not typically seen in a classroom setting. Youth members are largely given free range when it comes to turning their ideas into art, while receiving guidance from some of the city’s best talent, said Garvey.

“They have a lot more autonomy over what they want to do,” she said.

In getting paid hourly for their contributions, Garvey added the young participants are gaining financial literacy.

Painter turned collage-creator Amelie Duval, one of the five participating artists, said working on the project has been “amazing” so far. She’s engaged with the project’s young Picasos and Donatellos — even in the absence of words. One of Duval’s favourite moments so far happened during a recent sketching session with a youth team member.

Calling her experience the 5052 Community Mural Project “amazing,” artist Amelie Duval says she’s connected with youth through the creative process. Her daughter Luna Lavers often tags along for the collective’s weekly sessions. Photo courtesy of Amelie Duval.

“We didn’t talk much verbally. But we were kind of having a conversation back and forth (through art),” said Duval.

“It said a lot without using words.”

Giving youth the opportunity to collaborate and engage with other artists creates a sense of inclusion and belonging, she added.

“When you’re part of anything, whether it’s arts or sports, as soon as you have a project you feel like you’re a key ingredient of, I think that’s amazing for anybody’s morale, especially this time of year,” said Duval.

She hopes the finished mural will be a day-brightening beacon for the downtown, a “warm and inviting,” welcome at the city’s core.

Duval’s sentiments were echoed by Garvey.

“Usually murals have that effect of making people feel a bit more comfortable. When you beautify a building and make it colourful … people will want to come down here a little more,” said Garvey.

5052 Community Mural Project members will soon begin painting 10 circular panels, which will be affixed to the building. The work is expected to wrap up in the spring ahead of a summertime unveiling.

Donations to the project can be made here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/5052-community-mural-yellowknife?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_w72+5052-community-mural-yellowknife

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