Top Two Mural designs for Thunderbird
The Window View design looks into Vancouver and illustrates the location of Thunderbird Community Centre in relation to the crow path. The tree growing up the side of the building is an arbutus that is specific to the west coast. The tree is flowering a book as it grows out of the colourful brick books. Along the side wall there are silhouettes of diverse community members.
The Thunderbird Sun is designed to help identify Thunderbird Community Centre and welcome people to it. The silhouette of the douglas fir tree references our connection to the land. The community silhouettes invite all ages to come to the centre and the bricks will be painted in a colourful mosaic by the community.
Previous Design Concepts
Below are some of the other designs that led up to creating the two top. This shows the creative process behind narrowing down the design concepts.
Mosaic Silhouettes of Community
When first examining Thunderbird Community Centre for the prospects of a mural the most favoured wall was the cream stucco wall shared by the school and TCC. After my initial meetings with community groups the rough plan was to create a mosaic of different cultural patterns to represent the diversity in the community in a non pictorial way. By weaving a story through different cultural patterns. However the shift to focusing on Thunderbirds began in the end of November with the Youth Council. Our brainstorming session resulted in drawings of thunderbirds and I began to research further in their mythology. Shortly after, in December, Cindy Gulbransen was at a program committee meeting where the location of the mural was drastically changed to the brick wall at the entrance to the TCC. The board made it clear that they wanted a legacy piece that was going to identify them as Thunderbird Community Centre. I attended the next program committee meeting in January where the location and objectives were discussed. The mural was to go on the brick wall and the mural needed to put thunderbird on the map, to help people in the community identify it. What I also got out of that meeting was how much community members enjoyed involvement in actually creating the lasting artwork. The hands on coming together to create something that will leave a beatiful mark. There was some interest from the board to put their logo in the mural but after a conversation with Nathan Pope I realized that we would need a sign permit to do so. With focus on identity of Thunderbird I kept on the same path with the Mythology of Thunderbirds which had come out of the youth council meeting. I went into all the classes at the elementary school to talk to them about our art project, to inspire the artists in them, tell them stories of thunderbirds and ask them to draw their own thunderbird.
So here we with two contradicting themes; We want to be put on the map with a large mural identifying us as Thunderbird Community Centre AND we want to be highlight the community’s diversity with no distinct identity. It hard to pass up the obvious powerful imagery provoked by the name Thunderbird, but that shouldn’t exclude the community’s diverse identity. I am afraid this isn’t a situation where you can kill two birds with one stone. Therefore I have designed a two fold project that will function to display our diverse identity while also highlighting the bold identity inherent in the name Thunderbird.
Over the past 4 months, I've had the pleasure of getting to know the Community around Thunderbird in East Vancouver and lucky for me theres usually food, art or conversation involved :)
In November I stopped by Skeena Social Housing to join them for a weekly dinner. While they played dominos we talked about what made Thunderbird unique. It seemed to me that they were grateful to be part of such an inclusive and friendly community. They would like to see more activities that weren't just colouring books, as one lady remarked "we aren't school children", I tried to explain the colouring book trend. It also seemed that some were more difficult to motivate then others. There lays a challenge to find a way to engage this part of the community, beyond colouring books and dominos.
Later that month I went to Bulla Seniors Home. During afternoon tea I had many lovely and interesting conversations about the history of the neighbourhood. Apparently there had been a lot of orchards in this part of East Vancouver and some shared stories of when they were kids. Many other residence had not grown up here but also shared their different backgrounds and why they enjoyed being at Bulla. They really enjoyed the group outings and getting together for tea and meals. One sweet woman gave me a "care share prayer bear", one of the 5,000 she had knitted! She informed me that my name would be added to the list of people who would be prayed for. I felt very blessed to have been able to connect with these individuals who I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.
Next I met with the Youth Council to do an envisioning workshop. As with the other community conversations, I explain that I am doing a art project through Artists in Communities. The theme of our project is to create a mural and distinguish Thunderbird Community Centre. So I got them to tell me about what its like in their community. We brainstormed on that topic for awhile before I shifted the focus towards the mythology of Thunderbird. Many had heard the name but not the variety of stories surrounding the mythological creature. I had explaining what I learned from researching Thunderbirds, and then asked the youth to draw their own version of a Thunderbird. Such a variety of beautiful and unique drawings that will be posted soon!
At the beginning of February I spent two days presenting at Thunderbird Elementary School. I went to all the classes to talk about being an artist and explain our community art project. Honestly I was a little nervous but I soon realized that they were the best audience. They were very excited to see my art work and to learn about the mythology of Thunderbirds. We had a lot of fun drawing our own Thunderbirds. I was honoured to be there getting creative with so many brilliant and diverse children. From this experience I have a collection of beautiful art that will be displayed in part on this blog and at the Thunderbird Community Centre.
The next step is for me to synthesis this information and formulate a couple mural designs that will be put to a vote in the community. Please stay tuned for this story's inciting incident is just around the corner!
To kick off Thanksgiving weekend I was excited to do a community art project at Thunderbird Community Centre by Rupert and E 8th in East Vancouver. It was even a beautiful walk there through the fallen leaves.