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Origin Stories

Completed in 2023, Origin Stories is located at the 64 Avenue NE pedestrian bridge over Métis Trail.

Sydonne Warren says she was overwhelmed with the volume of supportive comments on her striking artwork as it came together in 2023.

“As I was working on the mural on site, people started stopping or commenting on my Instagram feed just because of how large it is and they were commenting on the colour and flavour of it. 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," says Oladele.

About Sydonne Warren

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.

About Mide Kadiri

Mide Kadiri worked with lead artist, Sydonne Warren on the community engagement and design of the mural project entitled Origin Stories

Photos by Samuel Obadero @ Motif Photography