Experiencing the projects behind Michelle Loughery’s Bold Murals & Artwork
BC Based artist Michelle Loughery’s work stretches from massive mural portraiture to multi layered evocative, abstract encaustic studio work. More than three decades ago, as Loughery’s artwork began to include youth trades programing and community skills training, to grow community projects in scale that entire communities were rebranded, and recreated in her collaborative creative placemaking work.
Born and raised in a rural coal town, the artist began to recognize a certain satisfaction she felt when working at a larger scale, and when youth and seniors from the community were engaged in the experience. From heritage themes, international music star themes, youth social change murals and crime prevention mental health projects, the art form would become integral to Loughery’s artistic exploration.
Inspired by those that challenged the systems, two key attributes behind the design of the Internment Canada Sunflower Mural, Loughery created a colorful massive piece, named “The Sunflower Project’ as tribute to the men and women interned in Canada during world war one. Loughery’s great grandfather and grandmother were effected by this Canadian injustice. Loughery is not unfamiliar with either injustices and challenging social systems ; she’s embraced both through the development of her indigenous youth Wayfinder ArtWORKS Projects and during her career she’s challenged the government and community systems to support youth inclusion and skills building in the process behind each work and global project she has created.
To embrace the parallels between Loughery’s artwork and the communities she champions, requires understanding the process and key themes that inspire her practice.
“My mural work and my studio work are quite different,” she says. “The murals are a work of love and inclusion. It is a infrastructure work of art that brings community together through community development and social change. The mural becomes a sense of place, of return and of skills and story exchange. The work also has much to do with the viewer.”
Loughery muses “The work must make bold statements. Both visually or historically. Not always a positive statement, but one that invites people into the view. It is astounding to me that I painted so much of the past, talking to the people who experienced it, while painting in the present, teaching youth that would be leaders of tomorrow. My work is true time travel. The art itself a time machine.” If it does not have a bold impact right from the start, it can be easily dismissed. The art must celebrate diversity and unsung heroes.