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STORIES OF NOW: Thinking Rock Community Arts



STORIES OF NOW: Thinking Rock Community ArtsArtBridges, Arts for Social Change Network, Thinking Rock Community Arts | ON | 2021

“STORIES OF NOW” is part of a project ArtBridges is working on with Judith Marcuse Projects’ ASCN (Arts for Social Change Network) and ICASC. It is about gathering and sharing stories emanating from the field now and about what issues and areas of focus matter.

STORIES OF NOW: Thinking Rock Community Arts (Thessalon, ON)
As told by: Miranda Bouchard (she/her), Artistic Director, Thinking Rock Community Arts, November 12th, 2021 to Seanna Connell (ArtBridges).


"If you could tell a story about your community-engaged arts initiative now, this year, what would the story be about? What are the main themes?

MB: The Surfacing the Sault (Sault Ste. Marie) mural project was different in focus and form than we had previously intended for it to be. It has so far gone through 3 phases: 1) a pilot phase, featuring a woven fence mural in the Sault during the pandemic that amplified messages of Mina-niibaanamaadaa / Joyeuses fêtes / Season’s greetings in high-traffic areas of the community. It was well received. People appreciated it, as they went about their business on the outdoor trail or driving by on busy Bay Street. 2) We installed a second mural this summer themed around “community & self love” – a message of love (Gizaagi’igoo / Tu es aimé.e / You are loved) was woven into the fence. We did our first mural activation at Cancel Canada Day, and another on September 30th – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, or Orange Shirt Day – where we invited community members to tie orange flagging tape in solidarity and recognition of the children and survivors of the Residential “Schools” and their families. We hosted 16 activations from July through October on Thursday afternoons. This connected the community, connected the staff team, and brought us all together for safely-distanced community arts programming. We’d show up, set up a tent, and have jelly roll strips of our green Social Fabric (handpainted recycled cotton sheets) and orange flagging tape (biodegradable!) and we’d write messages of community love & self love and weave them into the fence. Clusters of these messages grew over the summer. We’ll next work in collaboration with community members to sew the strips into the front and back of a quilt of community care over the winter. This will carry the legacy of the murals forward into our multi-year Social Fabric project as a physical artefact of that process. 3) We also hosted 5 youth-engagement sessions designed and hosted by youth staff members through the summer, inviting youth in the community to vision and co-design a third woven fence mural installation. The youth shared their dreams and hopes for the community – some coming from beyond the Sault, encompassing wider regions of Algoma – and we designed and installed the resulting mural for Ontario Culture Days this year. The message of this third mural is Giganawenindimin / Chal-heureux / We keep each other warm.
Surfacing the Sault became an exceptional, year-long project with a reach, impact and new partnerships we hadn’t initially imagined and a different approach from our original project plan: we had pitched the project pre-pandemic as a one-time installation. Through the pandemic and with feedback received from folx about how good the mural’s messages made them feel, the project became an interactive message board, a place to leave love letters for and from the community."

For the full Story, click the Download link or follow the link here:


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Thinking Rock Community Arts

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