Last month, the KWAG Youth Council wrapped up a year unlike any other with the installation of a collaborative digital mural that is now on view outside Kitchener City Hall. A Visual Glimpse of an Historic Year combines the creativity of nine young artists in our community who came together through virtual meetings to express their experiences of life during the pandemic.
Throughout this project, young artists in the KWAG Youth Council were introduced to the practices of various local muralists who introduced their materials and techniques through virtual workshops. These mentors included Pamela Rojas, Ralf Wall, Sandy Pell from Pellvetica, Trisha Abe, Paul McDonald, Stephanie Boutari and Nicole Beno, with Beno eventually guiding our Youth Council through the creation of their own collaborative mural.
“We recruited Nicole Beno as our mentor because her work is created mostly digitally and she was able to help us through the process of a collage based digital work,” explains KWAG Education Coordinator Stephanie Clinton, who supported the Youth Council throughout this year’s activities. Beno shared her process of compiling both found and hand-made images as a digital “library” of files that could be manipulated and assembled to create a finished artwork in Photoshop.
“This was such a new way of working for us,” says Stephanie, “and I was definitely nervous with how the youth would be able to collaborate digitally and have their voices heard. Once we got working on our own mural though, I was very impressed with how they took turns sharing ideas, built off each other’s ideas and also got enthusiastic and excited as they saw the mural change through their contributions. It was really neat and surprising to experience.”
The result of this virtual collaboration is a digital mural that reflects the combined experiences of our young artists during COVID-19. In their shared statement on the mural, the Youth Council describes their work as follows:
“It is a recollection of our experiences as we lived through a difficult and unpredictable time. We have expressed our chaotic time during the pandemic as the dark wall. Incorporated into this wall are representations of our experiences - staying at home, feeling isolated, our best friends, masks and hand sanitizers, and our feelings and emotions seen through various textures, paintings, collages, text, and photographs. Despite being apart, we were connected, as is shown by the six feet and the hands connected by a blue thread. Our hope bursts through the hole in the middle. It is filled with excitement and the idea of rebirth as we, hopefully, near the end of this pandemic.”
“They were a fantastic group to work with and this mural is all theirs,” adds Stephanie. “Each detail was thought out as a team and agreed on. Nicole and I helped guide here and there, but they really took ownership of the project themselves. This was definitely one of the most rewarding projects I’ve taken part in over the pandemic and I’m excited to see it installed!”
A Visual Glimpse of an Historic Year was created by Anika Sharma, Nishi Patel, Jennifer Phan, Janvi Patel, Anna, Autumn D-F, Yashasvi Modi, Amira and Clarissa.
The Youth Council Mural Project was made possible with the support of the City of Kitchener, TD Bank Group, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation – The Weiland Family Foundation Fund, and The Resilience Project.