Sparking Creativity Across BC - Part 1

Kristen Lawson – July 11, 2019

Part 1 of 2. Part 2 will be published July 18, 2019.

Creativity is vital for the health and wellness of a community. Art can bring people together, provoke discussion and make change. BC Culture Days chose ten local emerging artists to act as spokespeople and present activities for the tenth annual Culture Days weekend. Each ambassador has their own reasons for wanting to inspire creativity in their community.

Sebastian Nicholson - Prince George

Sebastian is creating colourful mushroom castings to be painted by community members then hidden around Prince George. Residents can try to find them all in a town-wide scavenger hunt.

He was inspired by birch spores while walking in the forest. The way they all hung together gave him a sense of joy that he wanted to bring back into the town. “We walk past each other in the street and we don’t say ‘Hi.’ Maybe when someone’s walking by and they see a telephone pole or something unexpected covered in the artificial fungi they’ll get the same feeling of joy, and be reminded that someone else is there.”

Sebastian works with a local community organization, helping people who are struggling, and volunteers for many arts events. He wants to bring people together, and get them engaged. “In Prince George there’s still a stigma associated with art, like ‘Art is only for hoity-toity people’ or ‘Art is only for the upper class’ but art is for everybody.”

Alyssa Harms-Wiebe - Vancouver

Alyssa’s artistic process involves going outside and practicing the art of listening. She started a hiking initiative in Vancouver with a few friends—every Sunday they go for a day trip or a hike. “I became kind of fascinated by the idea that nature can further our thinking, that it can further our relationships, further our conversations and that we should be there, be present.”

She wants to bring the experience of engaging with your surroundings to the community. She will host an event inviting the public to read poems scattered throughout trees and branches, and to contribute their own pieces, making the forest grow.

Alyssa is fascinated with language. “A big part of my love of words is from having grown up in a mixed background. I grew up in Brazil and moved to Canada.” She’s particularly interested in words that can’t be translated because they are so connected to the environment they come from.

Julian Legere - New Westminster

Julian wants to see as many people as possible make creativity part of their everyday lives. “There’s a lot of things that people do in their free time, when they’re at home, or at work, that can be really fulfilling if they just have a little bit of guidance on how to engage with it more deeply.”

He says that there are too many misconceptions about who can be an artist and what art is. You don’t have to be taking classes or working professionally to make art.

Julian is asking people to commit fifteen minutes a day, for ten days, to practicing creativity. He’ll teach people activities they can use for the challenge over the Culture Days weekend. These activities don’t require training or equipment, making them accessible to all.

His goal is to increase public awareness of the health benefits of creativity. “Participating in creativity allows us to preserve and protect and improve our emotional well-being, our mental health, and general wellness.”

Emily Shin - Richmond

Emily is a self-taught painter on a mission to awaken the hidden artist inside each of us. She has always loved painting but didn’t have the courage to pursue it when she was young. As an adult she attended a class and saw that even people who had never painted before could do it. “Well, I think I can do it too. I don’t really need to go to school, if I’m interested I can just paint and spend my time in it and be passionate about it.”

Now she teaches painting for beginners. Emily wants to help people who were like her, who might want to give art a try but don’t know where to start, or don’t think that they’re talented enough. Several of her students have taken up painting as passionately as she did. “They’ve actually become my friends. They’ll just come over and say ‘Okay, we do painting.’”

She is providing a fun, casual step-by-step painting tutorial, no experience necessary.

Molly Gray - Fort Langley

Molly believes that art and life are deeply intertwined. She is inspired by nature and everyday beauty. “The evolution of my work is influenced by my curiosity of the world around me.”

She is having a block printing event with two parts—kids will get to play with pre-made stamps, while teens and adults can carve their own. Each person will stamp a piece of fabric. Combined, the individual pieces will reveal a mosaic of the Fraser River. “I would like to create a work of art made by the people living in the area to represent Fort Langley’s rich history.”

Lately Molly has been reaching out to many people she wouldn’t have met otherwise. She wants to connect with as many local artists and businesses as possible, “to create a real community event within Fort Langley. Art is all around us and it would be awesome to be able to really showcase that.”

All ambassador bios can be read here.