This April, a whirlwind project that featured 150 diverse collaborators joining Guelph-based artist and educator Meredith Blackmore culminated in the creation of an inspiring public mural. The Celebrating 150 Years of Volunteerism Mural Project celebrates Canada’s sesquicentennial and Guelph’s culture of civic engagement and volunteerism. Recently revealed at Cork Street in Downtown Guelph, Celebrating 150 Years of Volunteerism was the project of PIN, The People Information Network, formerly the Volunteer Centre of Guelph-Wellington, with support from Guelph Arts Council.
Meredith worked to create a mural that celebrated Guelph’s incredible volunteers while engaging them in the process, allowing the mural to be a unique expression of our community from our community. Meredith, a great advocate of the belief that everyone is an artist, shared, “Part of what excites me about teaching and community work is the idea that more art makes more art. I get excited by that idea every day.”
Throughout the Celebrating 150 Years of Volunteerism Mural Project, Meredith welcomed and encouraged collaborators to add their unique mark to the mural, “There were a lot of great stories over the course of the Mural Project, especially at the beginning where we were a bit of a traveling road show. We took the panels to different locations. At each workshop I think there was a moment for every participant where they felt, I can do this, or I didn’t know I can do this, and those are incredibly powerful moments.”
Creating the mural was a transformative project, bringing unexpected creativity into the daily lives of both the community collaborators and Meredith, who said, “We so often set goals around community engagement and sometimes we get to check those boxes but you can’t feel totally certain that anything deep has really taken place. But with this project, I felt there were many instances that we were affecting each other here. That feeling is something that will propel me in the future.”
“Meredith’s passion for this project and her innate spirit of community and collaboration were inspiring; her level of engagement with volunteers and organizations showcased her love of people, the arts and the celebration of this country” said Christine Oldfield, Executive Director at PIN. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Meredith as this legacy project unfolded.”
PIN, The People Information Network, Guelph Arts Council, and Meredith Blackmore are thankful for the support of all those who came together to make this project a reality. Meredith shared, “I have never felt anything but support from the arts community in Guelph, but for this project, it also required faith from so many others.” PIN, The People Information Network and Guelph Arts Council are grateful for project support from The Guelph Community Foundation and Ontario150.