Wheels in motion for downtown public art project

The public art project is the brainchild of local sculptural artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssens

The public art installation is the brainchild of local sculptural artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssens. Her Wheels of Change design features eight colourful flowers

The public art installation is the brainchild of local sculptural artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssens. Her Wheels of Change design features eight colourful flowers

The art installation will be timely, attractive and temporary.

Wheels of Change is a public art project that could be up in downtown Chilliwack as early as next month.

Council voted Tuesday in favour of the project, which will beautify the fence at Ruth and Naomi’s Community Gardens on Yale Road east, at no cost to the city.

The public art installation is the brainchild of local sculptural artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssens. Her design features eight colourful flowers, made from recycled materials like bicycle rims and synthetic fabric, filled with words and images contributed by local community members.

“Some people think public art is just statues. It can be so much more,” said Roussel-Janssens. “I want to take a chance with this project and see how it could be perceived.”

It’s about finding ways to “put the wheels in motion” to achieve better mental health, and people struggling with mental health issues will be participating hands-on with fabric-burning workshops to fill in the decorative flowers for the project.

The flowers will spell out the words ‘Wheels of Change,’ and the project is geared to both reflecting on mental health, and partnering locally with the Creative Centre Society and the members of the Cheam View Clubhouse.

The artist was inspired in part by the mental health awareness campaign waged by Olympian Clara Hughes from atop a bicycle. Her fondest hope is that it triggers a meaningful community discussion.

This local project is timed for Mental Health Week, May 4 to 9, 2015, and it’s meant to be at least a month long.

“I’m interested in community-based public art,” she added.

For that type of public art to be effective, it has to offer “more than just a pretty picture” or design, she said.

It only makes sense to set goals that are multi-faceted, geared to accomplishing many different aspects at once, said the artist, especially when self-financing, as with this project.

“It has to be something that beautifies the city, and is a departure or challenges existing art practice in some way,” she said. “It has to be something that starts a discussion in the community, as well as something that brings light to part of the community, like those struggling with mental health issues.”

It is the second public art project to come to fruition since the creation of a Public Art Advisory committee at Chilliwack city hall.

Chilliwack artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssens has an established sculptural art practice ranging from small objects to large installations, on themes like history and the environment. She has exhibited across B.C and the rest of Canada. See more of her work at www.lsclight.ca