CCMA HALL OF FAME…has said..The Merritt Youth Mural Project has offered many of the youth in the community a tremendous opportunity to develop life skills training and in many cases, move on to full time careers. Commissioned by world-renowned muralist, Michelle Loughery, founder of the Wayfinder Project. Not only has the program served to enrich our society, but it has helped to transform Merritt into the largest country music art gallery you’ll ever visit. A visit to Merritt and you’ll find ample opportunity to pose in front of larger than life murals or your favorite country artists.
For one local artist the mural project is a dream come true.
When Michelle Loughery came to paint her first mural in Merritt she arrived without an assistant. Her plan was to pick up someone in town who was interested in learning the trade. That is exactly what she did and it has worked out to be the perfect relationship in so many ways.
Merritt resident Bobbi Jackson accepted Loughery’s challenge and has been with her ever since.
“I never thought I would ever paint on the side of a building,” said the aspiring artist. “I met Michelle and everything fell into place and I have been learning from her ever since.”
Jackson grew up in Merritt. Through high school she took a number of art-related classes and even went on to take a few fine arts classes at UCC. Jackson always knew she wanted to make her love of art into a career, Loughery has given her that chance.
Loughery was amazed with how well she and Jackson work together.
“She’s great and has the same hunger as I do,” she said. “I find the parallel between us interesting.”
Loughery said painting the side of a building takes a lot of dedication, long hours and hard work. She was happy to find that in Jackson.
“We would be out in the cold and we both just understand that we would continue until we were done,” Loughery added.
“This just feels exactly right. Working with Michelle has really grounded me,” Jackson said. “Michelle coming into my life when she did was the greatest thing.”
Jackson believes she owes a lot to the City of Merritt for giving her this opportunity.
“I find it very symbolic that I am leaving a legacy behind in my hometown,” she explained. “I am helping save my hometown and that means a lot to me.”
Jackson said it is a little disappointing that people do not see the murals as a local project. To her it doesn’t matter whether they are painted by someone local or by Loughery. What matters is that soon the town will be recognized globally for the murals and the stories they tell. Jackson added it is a bonus as a Merrittonian that she gets to be a part of such an important project.
The painting does not stop when Loughery leaves Merritt. Jackson has been staying with her in Vernon to work on a mural there. In the spring they will travel together to New York to paint a mural in the Big Apple. From there they are probably on to Scotland and Australia. During all this globe trotting Jackson is learning a trade she believes will keep her busy as long as she wants to keep painting.
Loughery predicts that, with the talent Jackson possesses, within two years Jackson will be able to paint a mural of her own on the streets where she played as a kid. MERRITT HERALD 2004 Dec 29