Amanda Hugon of the Raven-Tacuara collective in front of the anti-racism mural on the old Auld Phillips building on Fletcher near Yale. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Amanda Hugon of the Raven-Tacuara collective in front of the anti-racism mural on the old Auld Phillips building on Fletcher near Yale. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Anti-racism mural on the old Auld Phillips building fuelled by the immigrant experience

Raven-Tacuara collective completed new mural dominated by universal image of a skull

A huge skull dominates the vibrant, new mural painted by the Raven-Tacuara collective on Fletcher Street.

Chilliwack-born Amanda Hugon, one of the mural artists, calls the sprawling artwork on the old Auld Phillips building, one of the most important she has ever done.

“If you were to tell the little girl who grew up on Victor Street that she was going to design a mural and paint it on these two walls, she would have called you a liar,” she posted to her social media. “Here I am, living a dream of something I never even imagined ever in my life.”

The central figure of the skull is a universal element “since everyone has one, she said.

“This skull in particular does not have a race, and it does not have a gender,” Hugon noted. “It is for everybody and it is whatever they want it to be, or what they want it to represent,” she said.

But for Hugon, who is now based in Terrace, there’s a very personal story behind it. The skull represents her father who passed away on the streets of Chilliwack. She dedicates the work to him in celebration of his passing.

“It was Halloween when I found out. I,n a roundabout way I find comfort in that. So honouring that and him is part of this story,” the artist said.

The title of the work ‘Undulation and Turmoil’ underscores the “wild ride of emotions” that Hugon went on after starting the piece.

She said it allowed her to reconnect with Indigenous family in Chilliwack, to heal and to “cry the tears” she’s been hiding.

And she described it as a piece of her that she can “finally leave behind” in the streets of her homeland.

The flowers and the plants emanating from the skull are the struggles so many people face with mental health, homelessness, gender issues and racism.

“This is my life, and it’s a lot of other people’s lives as well,” Hugon told The Progress. “It’s amazing to be here and to be raising the awareness of that.”

To prepare for the massive anti-racism mural over two walls, the artists held a series of meetings, and interviews with various newcomers and immigrants from various communities, including farm workers, ESL participants and business owners to inform their art.

Facundo Gastiazoro, one of the artists in the collective, said when he first came to Canada, he learned to speak English through Smithers Community Services.

“So I am super happy to be giving back in some way,” he said.

Terrible stories of racism bubbled up out of those meetings, Gastiazora explained, with tales of verbal abuse, and exploitation of workers.

“Not having a community, you are very vulnerable,” he said.

It was out of those meetings, that the two main colour groups emerged for the mural. The colder blues and greens reflect the states of isolation and sadness, while the orange and salmon-red tones are warmer and welcoming, and represent the connectivity of community. On the blue side of the mural tiny figures can be seen floating without connections, while on the red side the figures are holding hands, surrounded by vines with leaves.

”The design was inspired by our conversations with the immigrant community in Chilliwack and we hope the mural will honour them,” Gastiazoro said.

The mural came together with the strength of partnerships.

“It is with great honour that Chilliwack Local Immigration Partnership and Chilliwack Community Services (CCS), presents this anti-racism art mural created by the Raven-Tacuara collective. The design, concepts and elements of this mural were birthed from the words and stories of newcomers to Canada,” according to a statement from CCS. “We strive for this mural to give a voice to the lived experiences of those from racial minority groups, and to be a beacon of hope and inclusivity, in celebrating diversity among Chilliwack and the upper Fraser Valley.”

Artists from Switzerland, Los Angeles, Northern B.C., Edmonton, Chilliwack, Vancouver, and Abbotsford have been transforming walls all over the downtown core in the past few weeks.

Ten new murals have been added to the existing 31, and will be the celebratory subject of the Aug. 20 mural fest event.

“It’s exciting for us to work with so many partners and bring excitement to the community,” said Lise Oakley, director of the Chilliwack Mural Festival.

Everyone is encouraged to stop by the many mural sites and stages on Saturday, Aug. 20, to chat with artists while they work and witness the artwork come to life.

“Chilliwack Mural Festival is going to be a joyful and bold celebration of public art,” said Amber Price, mural fest co-founder, and curator.

There will be four music stages, 14 live artists, a graffiti wall, and a community-led wall during the festival, which is the first of its kind launched in partnership with the Chilliwack Community Arts Council. There will be stuff happening at District 1881, at Central Community Park, as well as on Mill Street, Kipp Avenue and Victoria Avenue.

A downloadable map of all the murals is on the the Chilliwack Mural Festival web page, chilliwackmuralfestival.com

RELATED: Chilliwack morphing into a city of murals

RELATED: Jason Botkin mural is an ode to local waters

Do you have a story idea to share? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
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Facundo Gastiazoro of the Raven-Tacuara collective working on the anti-racism mural on Fletcher near Yale. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Facundo Gastiazoro of the Raven-Tacuara collective working on the anti-racism mural on Fletcher near Yale. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

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