Woman of the walls

Women of the walls.. there have been so many women who have graced the bumpy dirty alleys that hold the walls that so many hands have touched. The project of a Michelle Loughery Mural Project, has always been based in community building and skills education. The very first projects, way back in the small coal mining community of Sparwood were based on immigrant life lessons, learning of hard work disguised as creative fun. The result, tourism tools, skills learning, community engagement and educational history based learning, delivered through applied arts. The clean up of alleys, small towns and old buildings, just the icing on the wonderfully decorated short bread cookie. Education through place making, and applied art technology is something gifted to me by my immigrant ancestors. Community and art, form and function, hand in hand. In good times, there was an abundance of time to decorate, in times of want, not so much. Art in action in communities is now a trend in education, and although that is exciting to me, as so many youth can be reached, I also find it sad that art and design thinking has taken so long to surface in a learning business stream. Is it that the schools need the new trend to reach kids? Or do we need, as adults, to relearn creative ability in order to communicate to those less closed off from the childlike freedom that the young can express? I watch my grandsons create,  with bravery and a sense of freedom and new words emerge, and creatures, and places of great beauty. Sailboats roar and marshmellows smash with the sound of glass.  Augmented reality has existed on the mural walls forever. Layers of learning and engagement of seniors, children, youth and creators. In my memory my family were all community builders. Parade floats and days of fluffing kleenex flowers, the pale petals sometimes ripping in the wee hours of making hundreds of the pastel blooms that would grace the extravagant floats that celebrated the community that was a dirty coal mine by day and a wonderful multicultural festival on the other days. The truth in my memory were the men and women that baked cakes and pies and went to Eagle teas and wedding showers, planned women conventions that were based ob building the hospitals and schools and the extras that the system did not provide to the small rural town. The resource based community was the engine in the resource based provincial economy, but needed to raise the money to serve the people of the valley. This model is one that I am so proud to be the steward of. The women that led the learning of this, is what the walls of Vernon and all the other walls that I have led are gifted to be supported by. The walls are not decor on the street, but tools of education, skills building, community and social and economic change. It is a creative system that is a proven concept that thousands of youth and numerous communities have been part of.  A fact: the murals in my career have been a catalyst for over fifty million plus in actual out-sourced dollars brought into the connected communities. The trail of stories worth an amount, unmeasurable.  And who led this..the women that came before me.. My people..my herd….my women…my mentors …my teachers and my cousins, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers, my friends, my mother, my daughter, and the women that stand behind me always…so often time unmentioned…but know this …you are all in the space between the wall and the street….you are the actual reality of community learning.

MLoughery     for Pat, Lorraine & Famie

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