For 16 days straight, from dawn to dusk, five highly determined Montreal-based artists (who make up the artist run collective (A’shop) worked on a graffiti mural of a Mother Nature-esque Madonna or a modern-day version of “Our Lady of Grace.” Inspired by Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, the crew created this breathtakingly beautiful five story mural using 500 cans of spray paint in over 50 different colors. Fluke said that he hopes this project will encourage other city boroughs to consider murals of their own. “Our city has way too much gray. So I hope this [mural] kickstarts a mural campaign.” To really appreciate the time and effort that went into this massive mural have a look at some progress shots that were taken over the 16 day period plus Q&A´s with the artists after the jump!
What is the idea behind this piece? What does it represent?
The idea was to step out of our comfort zone and show the public what graffiti artists can be capable of. There is an amazing amount of quality work being produced within Montreal’s graffiti scene. Unfortunately, bad press and political strategies often only show the “negative” side of it , creating unneeded friction between citizens and our culture. Graffiti as a form of visual language can be hard to comprehend for most. We thought it would be interesting to paint this mural in a more common language, using imagery that anyone can understand, initiating dialog and building bridges. For this, we chose to inspire ourselves from Alphonse Mucha, father to Art Nouveau (1860-1939). A style of art that most people know or have seen before. Of course we gave it our own flavour and used N.D.G as the main theme. The end product being our take on “La Notre-Dame-de-Grâce” Our Lady of Grace”
Have you participated in any similar projects in Montreal or elsewhere?
We have been painting murals for long time and most of them for free. Nowadays, we generally get commissioned by the commercial and private sectors. We’ve done similar projects in Europe and in different parts of Canada but this is the first time that we’ve had the opportunity to work on a community project in our own city that allowed us full control over our creation.
What has been the general reaction of the passerby?
We were overwhelmed by the public’s reaction. At first, a few assumed that we were producing an advertisement for something and couldn’t care less. Once the word got out that this mural was strictly for the sake of reviving a boring wall, Folks got curious. We worked dusk till dawn, every day. And every day the crowd of people watching us got bigger. By the first week, it had become the topic of conversation around the neighbourhood. It felt nice to see people take ownership of that wall. Some folks made it a point to come see us every day. This one man repeatedly brought us freshly brewed coffee from his home. I can tell you one thing, we “own “very little of that wall . It belongs to those who see it everyday now.
Do you think the city should finance more projects like the one in N.D.G? Why?
Absolutely, because it’s a gain for everyone. What better way to regain dead space .
Although graffiti communities are close nit and we often share similar values, the reasons why we do graffiti in the first place are not always the same. Some want their name out there and have little need for the artistic side of it. As for others there is a creative process. If we don’t acknowledge it and support it, we are preventing these people form potentially doing great things as artists.