Artist Nathan Meguinis Transforms cSPACE Mural into Shared Message of Hope and Reconciliation
As a social enterprise committed to providing inspiring, sustainable, and safe spaces for creative entrepreneurs, cSPACE had a recent dilemma. What to do with a piece of public art that has become problematic? The addition of a mural of King Edward VII on the northside of cSPACE was once a way to transform a blank wall into something more creatively inspiring. Now it ties us to a colonial past that is uncomfortable today, and goes against our values of diversity and inclusion.
This dilemma was a catalyst for an incredible opportunity. cSPACE partnered with the Beltline Urban Mural Project (BUMP) to reimagine the artwork. Celebrated illustrator and muralist Nathan Meguinis was engaged to take on the project. Collaborating with the original artist, Doug Driediger, the mural has now become a symbol of hope for a new future.
cSPACE is honoured and delighted to announce that the work is complete. The mural that resulted from this amazing collaboration can be seen as you travel along 29th Avenue SW, between 16th and 17th Street. Rather than erasing history, the collaboration between Nathan and Doug creates a relationship between the past and the future. Their brushstrokes tell a story, from left to right, of a shared path forward.
Sharing the spotlight
On the left side of the concrete surface is the original painting by Doug Driediger, with its bright blue image of an arts-inspired Edward VII. On the right side, previously blank as if it was always waiting to be finished, is the striking figure of Chief Bullhead. The two leaders now appear in relation to each other.
Nathan’s artistic style, which he calls Abstract Realism, is a balance of bright colours, strong lines, and indigenous imagery. He blends traditional themes and symbols with a modern graphic sensibility to produce a unique contemporary style that feels uplifting as well as informative. There is a ton to grasp in his rich visual storytelling.
Nathan shared this about the finished work
“The individual on the right is named Bull Head. His Tsuu T’ina name is called Chula (meaning “he eats high up”). He’s actually the one that signed the Treaty 7. He would be our sovereign, our head man. The main reason I have him opposite is to complement Edward. I used the sunrise to represent a new beginning.
“The main reason why I chose the magpies is that they are very resilient birds. You always see them around regardless of the time of year, even when it gets really super cold. The message is, “I’m not going to abandon you. The ribbons represent the little children that were lost through the residential school experience, and the generational impact. The ribbons… represent bringing them home, carrying them home.
“He’s [Bull Head] actually holding a red pipe which represents the women’s pipe. The green robe represents the earth; green in Tsuu t’ina culture represents earth. The red is mother earth and is the woman’s colour, the blue represents the sky and the water, white is considered a holy colour, black is considered something powerful, yellow represents the sun and is a protection colour, purple represents the thunderbird and is a woman’s colour.”
Perhaps the greatest symbol of peaceful change is the depiction of the magpies. On the left hand side the birds are painted by Doug (a favourite subject of his). As they fly towards the right, Nathan’s hand picks up the brush and continues their journey across the sunrise. What could better sum up the movement from past to the future? Of reconciling history with hope for the future?
“The main reason I like doing these murals is to bridge the cultural gap and share what I know. I just hope they keep doing more murals. What I want to keep doing is just making more art.”
We hope you take a moment to enjoy this artwork by Nathan and Doug, together with other great murals by artists across our city. Art can provide moments of inspiration and whimsy, but perhaps even invitations towards reconciliation if we take time to pause, look and listen.