Ford City makes a colourful comeback through art
'I see what art as a tool can do to mobilize people together'
A walk down Drouillard Road has become an artistic experience where the neighbourhood's proud history is on display on almost every block.
More than 20 murals can be found along the busy road and in the back alleys, where graffiti once stained the walls, more public art has been painted. Colourful fences resembling a rainbow can also be found throughout the community.
"It's a focal point so people can see that there are changes happening," explained Gillian Benoit, chair of the Ford City Residents in Action group.
Benoit is a long-time Ford City resident and said since the fall of the automotive industry in 2008, the neighbourhood has been looking for ways to reinvent itself.
"Art is the way we chose," she said.
The Alley Mural Project was developed by the neighbourhood group in collaboration with local artists.
The initiative is in its sixth year and encourages people to take ownership of public spaces by transforming graffiti filled walls into works of art.
"Having murals pop up has shown people that there are people out here that care so a lot of the residents have come out in support of the murals and in support of community events," said Benoit.
Judy Depassio is one of the many artists whose work has graced a wall in Ford City. One of her paintings called the Tree of Life is located in a back alley off Drouillard Road where she said it's "kind of like a hidden treasure."
The mural took about a week to complete and shows the roots of the tree growing out of a rock. Depassio says it's significant because "it represent the families and it represents growth".
The branches in the mural show colourful flowers blossoming — symbolizing the community's history and its comeback.
"Here lays the roots growing out no possibility and yet we see the tree blooming and prospering," she said.
Over the past six year, the Ford City Residents in Action group has noticed a change in the community.
Benoit said illegal dumping is now minimal and more people are taking pride in the area where they live.
"I think when people walk around here I want to give them a friendly atmosphere. I want them to see that there are people that care. I want them to see that there is a revitalization happening, " Benoit said.
"I see what art as a tool can do to mobilize people together, " added Depassio.