Youth artists from Boyle Street paint ‘Pillars of the Community’ mural near Rogers Place

Young Edmonton artists meet their canvas downtown, Sept. 22, 2016.
Young Edmonton artists meet their canvas downtown, Sept. 22, 2016. Supplied: Edmonton Arts Council

On Wednesday, young artists began an important graffiti art project near the new downtown arena’s community rink.

The mural, called Pillars of the Community, will feature five portraits of people living and working adjacent to Rogers Place. It was created by former Edmontonians Layla Folkmann and Lacey Jane and will be completed with the help of a team of paid youth artists from Boyle Street Community Services.

Pillars of the Community mirrors the diversity and reality of Edmonton,” Folkmann said.

“We wanted to celebrate the unsung heroes, daily faces and the less heard or under-praised people who call this city home.”

The five portraits will each be painted on a side of the five-sided ventilation structure over the Metro LRT Line, which runs under the arena, rising 10 metres above the street.

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The project also embraces street and graffiti art as methods of expression for inner city youth.

“This mural project is more than just a mural project,” Sebastian Barrera, youth outreach worker with Boyle Street Community Services, said.

“This is a social statement of inclusion, respect and collaboration – an opportunity to honour our people.

“It’s also a chance for our youth to engage in positive activities, work and learn directly from the artists,” Barrera said.

Its location will allow the art to reach a large number – and wide variety – of people.

“It is exciting to see a transit property continue to evolve and welcome people into the space through inviting, engaging art,” Eddie Robar, branch manager for Edmonton Transit System, said. “We hope our riders get enjoyment and inspiration out of the piece.”

The portraits are based on photos taken by Sandy Phimeister. Each one will represent a different aspect of the community.

“The imagery, through the use of faces, colour and lines, highlights the many generations who have shaped this place and further underscores Edmonton’s reality, which is urban, vibrant and yet still connected,” Jane said.

A photographic exhibit showcasing the pictures will be held downtown.

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The mural artists will be working on the piece for approximately one month.