....the stories and art of AR:T WAYFINDER Artist Michelle Loughery PALIMPSEST EXPOSED WALLS
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.
The pioneer artist that turned passion for mural painting into an award winning global infrastructure strategy of creative community building through creative partnerships.
“The voices of all those before me spoke loudly as I painted their stories.”
MASTER ARTIST, MASTER MURALIST & PODCAST HOST
Visit my studio where the work I do pushes my artistic boundaries with encaustic mixed media works that are an integral part of my language and contemporary works. Take a peek while I use pigments, beeswax and even coal dust to layer palimpsest layers into crazy pieces that are highly sought after by collectors world-wide. The encaustic work is multi-layered and the process of taking away layers to reveal the work beneath the surface, tells of the work needed to learn your craft including the development of the medium created from the bees wax and pigments I hand make.
My newest exhibit is “Palimpsest -EXPOSED WALLS.” is a memoir series that I hope will tell the story of much of what I saw and experienced during my time on walls around the globe. I hope this to be a revealing look through the lens of the artist in the street and the social and economic change making I championed.Her encaustic paintings are an expression of bold mark making, energy and the melting of layers to reveal thoughts of the work hidden in the thoughts of the experiences of the walls and characters she met along the way. Loughery speaks of her memories in her portrait work and many familiar faces appear in the large striking pieces. Loughery has with work in collections across the Globe. Her encaustic and large contemporary portraits are widely sought after.
My name is Michelle Loughery and I was a girl that would paint anything. That one fact has been a defining act in my life and in my career. The one constant, with all my mural, studio, community, school, government, social justice and global work has been that I have always wanted to paint the world better. I am inviting you to engage with my story and how you too can become an ART WAYFINDER. From street art to board rooms to all levels of government what in my experience is needed is creative bridges. Creative ways for us all to be inclusive, welcoming and open to learning from each other in creative ways. And most possibly through the language of art.
THE WAYFINDER PROJECT
WAYFINDER ART Community Learning
My murals are approached as a massive fine art pieces, never mapped or gridded.
AWARD WINNING MASTER MURALIST
The Award Winning WAYFINDER Mural Projects I have created and led have been overarching and change making. From the legendary Route 66 Mural City, The Vernon Heritage Mural Project and the very successful Canadian County Music Walk of Star Mural Project my vision of a connected “WAYFINDER ART signage tour called “DESTINATION MURAL TOWN” trail with a creative people creative social art employment outreach has never wavered.
The project raised million of dollars for many communities and the ripple effects has yet to be measured. As a pioneer in the mural movement, it is with much pride that I stand on my scaffolding now and see the far reaching effects.
Of the hundreds of murals and projects that were has created, it is the youth and people that were part of her projects, is what I take the most pride in. The people I met on the street that connected through the bridge the murals created; are the creative learners who are pillars to the innovational change in education and social system connections.
WAYFINDER ART in ACTION that leaves a social economic tourism legacy. As my grandmother would say “Life’s work well done.”
Loughery’s WAYFINDER murals are talking walls, stories told in paint, story and art in action based learning, with every brush stroke a part of an inclusive conversation between all members of the community.
There are the normal downloadable learning modules for sure, but the delivery is based on a 30 year art experience with thousands of youth , indigenous youth and elders in my mural and creative community art career.
The unique program that I developed is based on the share creative economy that was taught to me by my multi-cultural immigrant small coal mining town. That small community had to constantly regenerate itself, dealing with mine disasters and hardships that the many immigrant and indigenous families faced. Those stories and methods stayed with me my entire career, through many iconic community art projects and into the very successful award winning community social art model called THE WAYFINDER PROJECT. The unique social model is that the art in action created a social program within art risk youths own communities. Providing and connecting thousands of youth with the resources and connections to help them find their way.
“WAYFINDER ART WORKS is art in action. Public art that brings people together through community development, skills development, intergenerational mentorship and social change. The mural becomes a sense of place, return of skill and story exchange that leaves a social tourism legacy and employment .” Michelle Loughery
As beautiful as the Mural is, it doesn’t compare to the beautiful things it has done for the community. The Wayfinder Mural Project os a powerful tool. Michelle is going to make this community and the world a better place, through these kids and her work.
JOHNNY REID Country Music Star.
“I believe Michelle’s work and murals help make local residents more aware of history and the murals become an economic asset because they draw tourist to the area. It gives credence to the past-if a community believes in its past, it will benefit in its future.
Peter Blundell Heritage BC
The story behind Michelle Loughery’s Bold Mural Projects
More than three decades ago, Loughery’s art legacy monuments pioneered youth employment and public art mentor programming globally. Born and raised in a rural coal town, that faced a forced relocation and upheaval, the artist early was exposed to social championing. Her grandmother fought for the environment and her grandfathers strong union leaders. Loughery soon began to recognize that to make changes, art could play a powerful roll in helping people have a voice. Especially the people who were silences or marginalized. She rapidly saw the connection and voice she found s when working at a larger scale piece of community art, 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. But it is the art in the space between the wall and the street that tell the most riveting and inspiring stories. In that space of between the art and the viewer we are all equal.
Inspired by those that challenged the social systems and injustices, Loughery created a massive piece, named “The Sunflower Project “ as tribute to the men and women interned in Canada during world war one. Loughery’s great grandparents were affected by this Canadian injustice.
Her 911 Memorial Mural, in New York was a piece that was created in collaboration with the first responders families in a Hope for Peace Community Wall. An image of this work is in the Smithsonian Museum in New York.
Loughery’s Icon Murals are sanctioned by the celebrities she worked with, including Elvis Presley Inc.
Loughery has been influencing Public Art for decades and leading communities to support creative economy infrastructures, while providing social solutions and tourism legacies world wide. Her innovative Wayfinder Project- Community ART in action strategies, creative trade based employment training program is an award winning inclusive bridge for an art based alumni of life learners. The Wayfinder AR:TS Academy offers workshops and downloadable solutions and strategies for artists and communities looking for creative solutions to social economic infrastructure needs.
Loughery is a respected thought leader and innovator in the development and implementation of actionable national, regional, and local art policy and community infrastructure projects. An influencer that leads support to arts and cultural organizations, creative placemaking, and creative culture-led renewal regeneration models.
Loughery’s passion for youth mentorship is evident in the development of her youth WAYFINDER ARTWORKS Projects and during her career she has partnered with many government, education and community systems to support art sectors, youth inclusion and art trades skills building in the innovative community infrastructure model she innovated. Loughery’s model was the catalyst to grow community projects in scale that entire communities were rebranded, and recreated in her collaborative creative placemaking work.
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, elder and marginalized new immigrants through inclusion and skills building systems being established through her recognized innovative community work processes.
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. 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.
- BC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
- ORDER OF CANADA NOMINATION
- LEADERSHIP CANADA AWARD
- TOURISM INNOVATION AWARD
- OKANAGAN ART EDUCATOR
- HERITAGE BC AWARD
- WOMAN OF THE YEAR
- MULTICULTURAL AWARD OF BC