Through photo shoots, community discussions and musical performances, a new art initiative in Halifax is bringing unheard voices to the forefront — and making the city a little more magical in the process.
The Magic Project, created by Emma Paulson and Kate Macdonald, aims to challenge stereotypes while increasing the visibility of marginalized people.
"We [are] reaching out to Halifax's marginalized communities, so specifically the black community and eventually the queer community."
'Here in solidarity'
But when the project was first getting off the ground, it was the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. that proved a catalyst.
"I am personally part of the queer community as well as Kate, and Kate is also part of the black community. In both of those areas we had a lot of friends and acquaintances that were thoroughly disappointed and feared for their friends and relatives in the States," Paulson told CBC's Information Morning.
"It just had a really daunting and dark shadow cast over our communities and we felt the reverb here, so we wanted to band people together and let everyone know that we're here in solidarity."
A transformative lens
The Magic Project kicked off with a photo shoot last month titled Black Girls are Magic. Roughly 25 women participated in the shoot, which took place in an empty lot on Gottingen Street.
Macdonald said it was a transformative experience for some of the women.
"The feedback was mostly that it was really empowering for [them] to define themselves in front of a lens ... There was something powerful about taking up space."
The photos had a huge reach on social media, Macdonald said, and the hope is that they prove as empowering for those who see them.
"If I had seen a photo like that when I was 9 or even 15, I would have thought I could do anything."
That event will be followed up by photo shoot with men this Sunday called Black Kings are Magic. At the end of the month, they'll be hosting Transparent, a community discussion about the issues young black men are facing, followed by a performance by several young black male musicians.
'The magic is in all of us'
Paulson and Macdonald said they hope to expand the program across the country, although they're still figuring out the details.
But one thing is certain — they have all the magic they need.
"The magic is the people, the magic is in all of us, and unfortunately marginalized communities don't always get seen or heard appropriately," said Macdonald.
"So we're giving them a chance to show everyone how magical they are."