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When Art and Giving Meet: A Conversation with Kirsten McCrae


TELUS Days of Giving are here and this year is an especially big year for us as we celebrate 10 years of giving! To celebrate this major milestone, TELUS organized two marquee social art rallies in Toronto and Vancouver that brought together volunteers from two of our local communities and to create large-scale murals that will leave a lasting legacy.

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Toronto based artist, Kirsten McCrae

To help us with this initiative, we partnered with two prominent Canadian artists, Kristen McCrea (Toronto art rally) and Jason Dussault (Vancouver art rally).

Before we hosted the Toronto event on May 23, we managed to steal a few minutes of the Kirsten McCrae’s, the art lead for the event, time and asked her a bit about herself and her thoughts on TELUS Days of Giving. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your art?

I’m a visual artist with a love for pattern, ornamentation, bright colours and accessible endeavours. The mural we created at the Toronto Social Art Rally is basically a dream come true, as it combines all of those things!

What inspired you to get into art?

I have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. It’s less that I was inspired to get into it and more that it’s a passion that I’ll never shake. I feel lucky to get to wake up every day and do something that I love.

What is your process for creating a large art piece like the Toronto/Scarborough mural?

I started off by having a few brainstorming sessions and then moved on to the research phase. I interviewed people who live in Scarborough and read up on the history of the area. It is important to me to create something that has a tangible connection to the place where it will be displayed.

Eventually I settled on the idea of referencing all of the different cultures of Scarborough through pattern. Patterning is wonderful in that it is almost universal across cultures, yet it is culturally distinct enough that some motifs can instantly call to mind specific places. I researched patterns from the dominant cultural groups represented in Scarborough and then collaged them together within a phrase that speaks to community and focuses on the idea of togetherness. You’ll see the final phase when it’s unveiled this summer.

How will the TELUS Days of Giving volunteers help you bring this piece to life?

We created a GIANT paint by numbers! The final piece will be 20 feet tall, and 130 feet long. Luckily, professional artists were there to help out all of the volunteers and these artists painted in the edges beforehand with the corresponding colour. It was a really fun day of filling in colour.

The most important thing was that everybody had fun and didn’t worry about whether or not they were good at art! We’ve made it easy and were there to guide them. The final piece is going to look fantastic; it will be so cool seeing it come to life. 

Why is it special to do a mural art installation in the city where you live?

You know, I’m an artist, but one of the things that really irks me about the “art world” is how exclusionary it can be. We live in one of the most visually-saturated cultures of all time. More than anything, I want to help create a world where more people get to have experiences with art on an everyday level. Murals are amazing for that. They are an art that can be appreciated by everyone. More importantly, they belong to everyone in the community.

TELUS Days of Giving is all about giving back to your community, are there any community causes that are important to you?

I think that anything that brings people from different walks of life together is a good thing. So many problems emerge from fear or lack of understanding. Interacting with new people is an amazing way to learn more about, not just about others, but also about yourself.

We want to thank Kirsten for being a part of this incredible initiative!

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If you’re going to be around the Scarborough in the coming months, be sure to pop by the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre and check out the finished mural and don’t forget to check out the blog next week for our feature on Vancouver Social Art Rally artist, Jason Dussault.

For more information on TELUS Days of Giving, visit http://community.telus.com.