“It definitely hurt us,” said Kay L, executive director with BLM YYC. “We feel this is a symbol of fighting for equality and a symbol of fighting for justice for everybody.
“So it just goes to show how much work we still have to do when it comes to racism and when it comes to that deep-seated hatred here in Calgary,”
The shipping container the mural was created on is part of containR, a pop-up arts and culture hub organized by Springboard Performance.
The BLM container was originally painted in June as part of a fundraiser but it was vandalized a few months later. According to the executive director with Springboard Performance, a new BLM image was painted about a week ago by a different artist, but it too was damaged this week.
Nicole Mion is the artistic director and executive producer with Springboard Performance. She says containR has always been a public place for art —a place for artists to express their feelings. She said sometimes the art is tagged randomly, sometimes not.
“In intense times comes intense art,” Mion said on Saturday. “Art has its place to reflect what a community is feeling and this is some of what the community is feeling right now.
The anonymous artists who created the mural released a statement about the vandalism:
“We strongly oppose and condemn any actions made to uphold white supremacy, be it from a private citizen, public servant, or institution. We acknowledge that systemic racism runs through the heart of Canadian institutions and Canadian culture beginning with the colonization, oppression and genocide of Indigenous people and cultures that continues to this day. We make artwork in solidarity with struggles for Black and Brown liberation catalyzed by the Black Lives Matter movement. The feeble attempt to erase the words “Black Lives Matter” from a public space underscores the fact that racism is very much alive and well in Calgary. We will continue to create artwork that strives to uplift and support marginalized communities. In the words of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers, ‘You Can Kill a Man, but You Can’t Kill an Idea.'”
Mion said while it may be disappointing to see an artist’s work damaged, she’s encouraged by what she’s heard from community members who want to step in.
“It is sad on one level. I don’t like to see when the work that an artist has put into expressing something is not there or has been removed in some way or covered in some way, but I also love that the community feels empowered enough to want to respond online in 24 hours and wants to talk about it and wants to share, ‘How can we fix it?'” Mion said.
Several other BLM murals have been completed or are set to be painted in Calgary including one in Chinatown.
“I want to keep seeing these types of murals going up and I think it’s important to know we also stand behind other communities that want to have their voices heard. The more murals that we get out that are Black Lives Matter, the more murals we can get out about all kinds of people and having their voices heard,” said Adora Nwofor, president of BLM YYC.
Springboard performance is now determining what the planned re-paint of the damaged art will look like.