“Strength and Fragility” for The Calgary Alpha House Society with the Beltline Urban Murals Project. Much thanks to these organizations. I worked among marginalized, homeless, and people with mental health and addiction challenges. It has been an experience like no other. I have so much respect for all the staff who work at this vital facility. I met many kind hearted and friendly people who are just trying to get by. It’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s real. People are suffering and need help. Society needs more love.
Alpha House provide a safe and caring environment for individuals whose lives are affected by alcohol and other drug dependencies. “Strength and Fragility” is an abstract landscape of eagle feathers and swallowtail butterfly wings. I chose these items of flight to connect to uplift, and to represent the clients and service providers at this building. The abstraction plays into how things aren’t always pretty and whole, but the broken-up pieces all belong together to transform holistically. This mural was commissioned through BUMP who are doing great work to make space for artists and community groups.
This project came about in part because a small group of residents in a new condo building across the street, started a petition to move Alpha House, a non-profit shelter that has been servicing the community in this location for decades. Alpha House felt a mural would add to their belonging in this neighbourhood. As murals do sometimes receive critique of gentrification, this one has significance for me. It‘s also the second year I’ve made a mural for a shelter and I hope to do more. I decided to stay one night at an Airbnb in the condo building to get the perspective of a resident, because I like to understand many sides of a situation. They said that most people in the building are appalled at the NIMBYism, and that this small group doesn’t represent the building at whole. A counter petition gathered many more signatures. I understand the concerns such people have, but such places need to exist. I was also fortunate to be invited to eat meals daily with people in recovery, and got to aspects of how a place like this operates to help people in need.