One of the greatest things about street art and murals, in particular, is their ability to bring people together. This is not only true in the way murals and street art interact with the everyday person, ie. through viewing and playing with pieces of public art, but also in their creation. All around the world, mural programs reach out to community members and introduce people to the power of art, and give them the tools and skills to start or continue their own artistic journey.
Here on the MuralForm blog, we have dedicated a lot of space to the many mural programs we hear about and witness, both locally in Toronto and around the world. It is an important part of who we are and why we do what we do. And today we have yet another incredible example of a mural arts program doing good in a community. This time in North Bay, Ontario.
In the northeastern Ontario town, a local Mac’s decided it was time to give back to the community that has served them so well, and they did it through a simple yet powerful donation: the large wall on the side of their building. A plain wall by any standards, Mac’s convenience store owners, along with North Bay Police and Near North Crime Stoppers, decided to get the local kids and youth involved in a beautification project. The goal: teach the kids how to make murals and paint the wall with a memorable a beautiful piece of street art. They called the project Mac’s StreetArt initiative and it was a huge success from the moment it got started.
To make the project a reality, the Mac’s StreetArt initiative invited Toronto muralist and graffiti artist Magic “Finnga” Wong to their town. Together, they started a three-day program that encouraged participation in every single facet of the mural, from coming up with the design to the actual painting.
Magic Finnga Wong helped the many locals who came out and participated learn the finer points of spray painting, all while teaching them the code of street artists. Namely to respect each other’s work and to contribute to the community rather than to desecrate it. “When you invite the kids from the neighbourhood or anyone in general from the area to come out and paint it makes it theirs,” he said in an interview with Sudbury. “It becomes ownership to the neighbourhood.”
The piece, now finished, is a testament to the power of murals to not only beautify space but enrich people’s lives. Now, these community members have the start of the skills they need to continue on their personal artistic journey. Who knows, the next great graffiti artist may have got their start painting the Mac’s wall in North Bay, Ontario!