NE public art projects
About the initiative
Several public art projects are in the works for Calgary’s northeast communities. These include functional artworks such as a bench, a bike rack and a picnic table, mini galleries showcasing local artists’ work, a sculpture for the Genesis Centre, murals on the pedestrian bridge crossing over Metis Trail, and several short documentary films highlighting how northeast community members were engaged to inspire the artists working on their designs.
This initiative aims to build amazing spaces for people to come together and provides opportunities for local artists to showcase their talent while celebrating the diversity of art forms, people and cultures represented in northeast Calgary.
Art and artists
Local, talented and enthusiastic artists have been selected for the following projects. Each of these artists brings a unique perspective and is committed to working with community members to create meaningful artworks.
Calgary artist Sydonne Warren has completed her work on the show-stopping mural on the pillars, titled Origin Stories, supporting the 64 Avenue NE pedestrian bridge over Métis Trail and has already been overwhelmed with the volume of supportive comments on her striking artwork.
“Since I started working on the mural on site, people have been stopping or commenting on my Instagram feed. As it got closer to completion I received more and more positive feedback,” says Warren, who was hired as the lead artist and worked with emerging artist Mide Kadiri on the community engagement and design.
The roughly 7-metre piece consists of images and scenes reflective of Warren’s interpretation of the community's past, present and future all accomplished in a super-hero graphic style.
The northeast means so much to me, and it was crucial for me to really capture the essence of the neighbourhood. My family immigrated to the area from Jamaica when I was very young, and many of my friends growing up were also new Canadians or brought other languages and food to my world. It wasn’t uncommon for us to learn phrases in Mandarin or any language of our friends or eat food that was new to us; in my experience the Northeast is really a place of interchanging and embracing many different cultures.
Warren found out she was successful in her bid to be part of the project in May of this year. Part of the intricate process of preparation included engaging with community members and youth across the northeast to get a solid sense of how best to represent the community. While the conversations gave Warren the ideas she needed to get the project off the ground, it was one encounter with a local Blackfoot elder in particular that informed her work in a powerful way.
“(The elder) had attended a residential school and had been profoundly negatively impacted by that but he was so committed to making sure the youth in his midst were not weighed down by his experience,” reflects Warren. “He kept emphasizing that his mission was to support youth in new opportunities and to shield them from having anger in their hearts. I was particularly moved by that and wanted the mural to embody a spirit of vibrancy and hope.”
City of Calgary public art project manager, Toyin Oladele says the bridge mural project is a bold symbol of celebration of the flavour of northeast Calgary.
We created a whole Northeast Public Art initiative to address what we found was a lack of public art in the northeast compared to other parts of the city, and this bridge mural project really nails it in terms of capturing the essence of community and the fact that the northeast has become synonymous with people from all different cultures living together in a colourful way.
Photos by Samuel Obadero @ Motif Photography
A visual artist originally from Jamaica and raised in Calgary, Sydonne is known for her vibrant and expressive portrait paintings. She studied Architectural Technologies and Graphic Design at SAIT and went on to major in Graphic Design at AUARTS. Sydonne has been honing her craft since 2013 and has recently expanded into public art, creating works in public spaces over the past three years. Her artistic abilities have been recognized with Diversity magazine’s Artist of the Year Award and her work has been featured in various local media outlets. Sydonne’s portraits often feature black women and incorporate geometric elements, with bright contrasting colours, drips and splatters, adding depth and conveying her cultural experiences.
Mide Kadiri worked with lead artist, Sydonne Warren on the community engagement and design of the mural project entitled Origin Stories.
Sumer Singh operates his creative practice at the intersection of design, engineering, architecture and fabrication. Sumer Singh Studio was established in 2013 to create objects based on artistic expression and has grown into a full-scale design and materials research lab with in-house fabrication.
Sumer Singh’s family name is Matharu, meaning sword hilt maker going back to 500 years of artists, blacksmiths, poets, and authors from Punjab in Western India. His background in art, engineering and architecture allows Sumer to focus on technical yet free exploration of ideas, which are propelled forward by material science and applied research http://www.sumersingh.com/
“I am deeply honoured to have been chosen as the sculpture artist for the Genesis Centre due to my inherent connection to this area, and my passion for building community as an artist. I lived in Martindale near the Sikh temple for many years since moving to Calgary in 2008 and my artist studio is located in the NE Greenview Industrial Area. I have also been a member of the YMCA and Saddletowne library at the Genesis Centre, which laid the foundations of my journey as an artist. I’m eager to start speaking with community members and explore ways in which this piece of public art might promote cultural diversity, beauty and historical significance to the land.”
Artworks by up to 36 local artists will be showcased in mini galleries at 10 northeast community centres and in the municipal building atrium throughout 2023. New artworks will be on display from January to April, May to August and September to December in the following locations:
- Municipal building atrium (800 Macleod Trail SE)
- Beddington (55 Bedridge Way NE)
- Crossroads (735 Matador Crescent NE)
- Falconridge (95 Falshire Dr NE)
- Livingston (1248 Livingston Way NE)
- Marlborough Park (6021 Madigan Dr NE)
- Martindale (110 Martin Crossing Park NE)
- Rundle (2409 50 St NE)
- Temple (167 Templegreen Rd NE)
- Thorncliffe Greenview (5600 Centre St N)
- Winston Heights (520 27 Ave NE)
Mini gallery exhibitions are curated by Katrina Ali and Morgan Black.
Katrina Ali has a BA, Spanish major from UBC, Vancouver. She is fluent in French and Spanish and is deeply inspired by diversity. Following graduation from university, she taught English in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador until she recently returned to Calgary, her native city. Katrina is the co-founder of Small Space Gallery which offered a humble, curated art-centered space to a wide variety of local creatives from March 2018 to April 2020 in Kensington, Calgary. Currently, Katrina is a Communications Specialist for The Knowledge Society, as well as offers art curation/advisory services. She is passionate about the arts and the urban development movement in the city of Calgary and wishes to contribute to this movement in a meaningful and proactive way.
Morgan Black is a Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nations multi-disciplinary artist and curator residing in Mohkinstsis on Treaty 7 territory. Her/their practice includes exploring Indigenous identity through relationship to materials, sustainability, the senses, time and place, while drawing inspiration from the land. Her curatorial practice involves approaching the role from a decolonial lens that empowers diverse/marginalized artists to take up space in the contemporary fine arts world. Her/their methodology privileges visibility, representation, and respect that honours artists and their visions.
January to April 2023 mini gallery exhibits
May to August 2023 mini gallery exhibits
September to December 2023 mini gallery exhibits
Bench, bike rack and picnic table
Apiow Akwai is an emerging visual artist based in Calgary. She discovered her passion for arts at the age of six. What started as a creative and emotional outlet led to her deep respect and appreciation for the arts.
Her work primarily consists of portraits, landscape, and human figures that are created in oils and acrylics on canvas. Apiow uses deliberate compositions and symbolism to shed light on the dark and beautiful chaos of emotions that is intentionally portrayed across all her work. The use of art therapy and the correlation between mental health and self discovery are tools Apiow uses as inspiration when creating a new body of work.
Day Pajarillo is a Filipino immigrant who arrived in Canada in 2008 as a food service worker.
Day is a visual artist, fashion designer and educator who took a year of an architectural course at the Far Eastern University Manila in 1985 and a fashion design course at Slim’s Fashion and Arts School in Makati, Philippines in 1986. Day graduated from the University of Santo Tomas, UST in Manila with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a Painting major in 1992.
She also attended the advanced fashion design class in 2001, held by the late Danilo Franco, a well-known celebrity fashion designer in the Philippines. Her interests are human figures and movements, facial expressions, everyday life, history of arts, cultural arts and dances of the world. https://daypajarillo.wordpress.com/
“My current practice is modern art, contemporary painting, leaning to impressionism and cubism with people as my main subject. I am happy when I paint human figures, movements and portraits. There is an infinite availability of subjects to paint in different approaches, which makes it more interesting when I just let my imagination guide me and be surprised with the outcome.”
Vikram Johal has a diverse background in creating through different mediums including video production, sound engineering, fashion, and graphic design. His focus is predominantly on experiential design using the combination of these mediums.
Vikram holds a Masters in Architecture from the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape and an undergraduate degree in Biomechanics from the University of Calgary. Vikram’s passions include Muay Thai in which he has trained since the age of 11 and has competed in both locally and internationally. https://viqdesign.ca/
"Being born and raised here in NE Calgary, my connection to this part of this city runs deep. I have always been a creative that looks for different ways to connect emotionally as humans through art and expression. I am beyond excited for the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience in architecture and design to help tell the stories of our communities in an authentic way."
Samuel Obadero's journey into the arts began in theatre in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was born. As both an actor and stage director, he directed several plays and performed on many stages in Nigeria before immigrating to Canada in 2018. He is also a multi-award winning photographer and one of his proudest moments was winning the Art Champion award at The City of Calgary's Mayor's Launch in 2019. He achieved a life goal when he opened Calgary's first Black-owned photography studio, where he now mentors other young artists.
With his first degree in Information Technology, Samuel helped develop the IT infrastructure at the largest YMCA in the world, but art has always been close to his heart. https://www.instagram.com/samuelobadero/
Inspired by community
What we’ve heard so far
In 2021 we asked for your ideas on what kind of public art should be created, where it should be located and what stories the public art should tell. Your thoughtful contributions helped us to build the overall project plan and issue artist calls.
In 2022 we hired local artists to create a bench, a bike rack, a picnic table and a sculpture. Northeast community members provided input on what they would like to see incorporated in the artists’ concepts. The artists are now working on design and fabrication and these first four projects are expected to be installed in Calgary in 2023.
Upcoming artist engagement
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