Something big and beautiful is coming to the intersection of Larch and Jennings streets near Dalhousie this fall, and members of the surrounding community are invited to help bring it to life.
A colourful mural designed by Mi’kmaw artist Tayla Fern Paul will be painted onto the streets there later this month with the help of residents as part of the Larch and Jennings Street Art project.
The project, led by residents of those streets, aims to bring together neighbours, students and the Dalhousie community to creatively promote community connections and mutual respect in the area.
Thinking for the project emerged out of a shared desire to address drinking party culture in the Jennings/Larch neighbourhood, particularly with unsanctioned street parties that have created considerable risks and harms for both residents and students.
The group organizing the project includes neighbours Karolynn Hsu, Victoria Hughes and Neil Ritchie. After securing a grant and attending placemaking sessions with HRM, the group sought out support and additional funds and donations from Dalhousie Community Engagement, Dalhousie Student Affairs, Councillor Waye Mason and local businesses.
“We are pursuing this project as a simple idea that in the spirit of fun and optimism, we can bring people together,” says Hsu. “Stronger connections help us all be in a better position to tackle the challenges and create a community based on mutual respect for our collective well-being.”
Paul, a K’jipuktuk–Halifax-area based artist, welder and mother of four, participated in discussions with the community and students about how the project and mural design can promote the themes of community connection, responsibility, and wellbeing.
Paul’s work tries to focus on positive ways of asserting Mi’kmaw culture into public space and mainstream culture within Mi’kma’ki. She attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, studying fine art with a focus in drawing, sculpture, and film. Her latest works include the Annie Mae Pictou Aquash mural now installed on Agricola Street, just south of North Street, and the North American Indigenous Games medal design. She is currently working on a steel Mi’kmaw Peaked Cap sculpture.
Of this particular design, Paul says: “When meeting with the community to gather ideas for this piece I was asked to make it inclusive, I was asked to make it refer to medicine, and I was asked to make it promote respect. All these things are related. The thing that really resonated to me was the need for respect. Respect is inclusion. The lack of respect requires social medicine. Art can be, to some extent, that social medicine.
The final design has been approved by the city.
On September 23 from 12-5pm, the streets will be closed and the colorful street art will be painted by residents under the guidance of Paul. This day will also be marked with a celebration where the community can spend time together while enjoying food and entertainment.
For more information or to volunteer with the project, the organizing group can be contacted at email@example.com.
Further reading: Community engagement and street party culture
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