Calgary

Calgary community ups its art game with powerful youth murals

What does 2020 mean to you? That was the seed planted in three young Calgary artists and it grew into huge, colourful, thought-provoking murals now on display in the northwest community of Sunnyside.

3 teen artists were chosen to capture 2020 in imagery, and the spray paint flowed

COVID-19 was the inspiration for three murals now on display at a Sunnyside park. 1:36

What does 2020 mean to you? 

That was the seed planted in three young Calgary artists and it grew into huge, colourful, thought-provoking murals now on display in the northwest community of Sunnyside.

"This is the first mural I have ever done," Daniel Volante told CBC News.

"I have never used spray paint before and I have never done anything this big before, so it's been quite the process. I am learning a lot."

Daniel Volante, 17, is calling his mural Dreamer. It's about wanting to do a lot but having COVID-19 restrictions put everything on hold. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

The 17-year-old's mural, Dreamer, is bookended by the art of two other teens on shipping containers at a Sunnyside park just southeast of the Kensington Safeway.

Volante says he's spent several hours a day for three weeks putting together his contribution to containR, a pop up arts and culture hub organized by Springboard Performance.

"I wanted it to look dream like. A lot of the colours are vibrant. I used a blue to outline everything," he explained.

This is Jaxson Naugler's mural. He wanted to show a connection between humans and nature. (Mary Annan)

"I found this piece in myself. It's a pretty personal piece. I was inspired by how I felt during the last four months. I've been dreaming and thinking a lot. I want to do everything but in the last four months stuck at home, it's just not coming out. That's what this piece means to me."

And that's exactly what Springboard Performance was looking for, the artistic director says.

"What does 2020 mean to you? That was the starting point," Nicole Mion said.

"The best art comes with what is most meaningful to you. That's a great place to always start."

The murals will be at the Sunnyside location, just southeast of the Kensington Safeway, for a few more weeks. (Mary Annan)

The containR program started in 2009, perhaps ironically, as a way to combat vandalism.

"While it started as a way of deterring tagging, it became a way of sharing incredible art," Mion said.

Springboard Performance had a call out for artists. A jury narrowed the applications to three. There are photography and blogging elements to the project as well.

Daniel Volante calls his piece Dreamer. This is near the start of his mural. (Rich-Belle Banasen)

Their canvas is a shipping container about nine feet by 40 feet (roughly three by 12 metres).

"The point of containR is to connect communities with art," Mion said.

"You can see performances, you can play music, you can see family theatre, you can see a whole series of murals. Like any park, you go to play, you go to connect in the way you feel comfortable."

Kate MacLean wanted to make a statement about equality and beauty in her mural, called Eclipse. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Another artist, 15-year-old Kate MacLean, was uncomfortable with some of what she sees as media representation of people of colour.

"The Black woman on the left depicts the sun. The Asian woman on the right depicts the moon," MacLean explained.

In an eclipse, they are together. So that's what MacLean has named her piece.

"I wanted the opportunity to paint people of different ethnicities. Different kinds of people are equally beautiful."

Kate MacLean works on her mural, called Eclipse, which shows two woman of different ethnicities side-by-side. Her message is everyone is beautiful. (Rich-Belle Banasen)

Jaxson Naugler wanted to make a point about interconnectivity in his art.

"A human and a tree. The person's face turns into a tree. That's the most important connection," the 17-year-old said.

"I also added some trippy, colourful stuff on the other side to show that, yes, these two things are connected, but also everything in the universe is connected."

Jaxson Naugler, 17, is a Calgary-based visual artist. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Naugler says it's reaction to his work that he most enjoys.

"My favourite part is just hearing what people think it means," he said.

"Everybody thinks it means something else. It could mean a thousand different things. People's interpretation is my favourite part."

Teen artist Jaxson Naugler works on his mural, which depicts the connection between people and nature. (Rich-Belle Banasen)

With files from Hala Ghonaim

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now