The Griff

Bringing some colour to the area

Culture

Bringing some colour to the area

MacEwan University students and alumni use street art to invigorate the Jasper Place neighbourhood.

Most people living in the Jasper Place area would not draw similarities between their neighbourhood and the urban metropolis of London.

The Jasper Place region has, unfortunately, been excluded from much of the art and culture scene in Edmonton. Moreover, an alley does not strike most people as an inviting place in any neighbourhood, but several MacEwan University students and alumni have recently dedicated themselves to bringing London-inspired street art to local residents. In particular, the artists were influenced by the work of Banksy, a British street artist famous for his clever messages and his bold, simple style.

The project curator, Agnieszka Matejko, led her team of artists on a mission to paint over the stigma surrounding the Jasper Place area. Both former and current MacEwan students blended to undertake the series of murals. Kelsey Vaughan, a second-year Fine Arts student, acknowledged that the area was lacking but said that she believed there was great potential for development. With the help of The Stony Plain Road and Area Business Association, the artists began redefining the image of this once-colourless part of Edmonton.

Matejko raised money for the mural project and oversaw it from start to finish. Local business owners expressed enthusiastic support, offering an open canvas for the murals. However, fundraising for art projects can be complex and time-consuming, and the annual Fine Art Gala at Centre for Arts and Communications fundraised for this particular project for the past three years. The galas were supported by the university, the Stony Plain Road and Area Business Association, and the City of Edmonton.

The new installations juxtapose the unappealing vision of the alley with the splendour of children at play. The paintings are also meant to elicit a playful response from the viewer, as each mural is intended to surprise people and make them more likely to search for another painting — like a treasure hunt.

“We made the installations subtle and surprising, so that people would come across the art unexpectedly,” says Matejko.