Fernie artist Michael Hepher has been selected to complete the Fernie Mural Project, a roughly 15ft x 96 ft piece of public art on the side of The Beanpod chocolate shop.
His piece, All Kinds of Beauty, aims to capture the beauty in the diversity of the Elk Valley.
Combining his skills as a painter and print maker, the piece will take on an abstract, geometric look, and highlight the many aspects of life in the valley.
“As people move along the piece, they embark on a journey that hopefully shows them bits of themselves, but also showcases what parts others might be passionate about,” said Hepher in his artists statement.
“My goal will be to challenge viewers to understand more about Fernie, and as all good public art does, to force people to expand the dialogue about our own understanding about who we are and what defines our community.”
Embedded in the piece will be symbols of industry, recreation, indigenous history and architecture.
(A render of the mural. Note: Final paint paletted and colours will be determined according to consultation with Ron Ulrich at the Fernie Museum, as well as the Fernie Historic group. Image courtesy of Michael Hepher)
Hepher’s proposal was one of six submitted. The Fernie & District Arts Council explained in a release that the applications were all very strong and they had a, “tough, but exciting time selecting the final piece.”
The jury was made up of five individuals: Vanessa Croome, owner/operator of Claris Media and a visual artist; Ron Ulrich, executive director of the Fernie Historical Society and curator of the Fernie Museum; Theresa Malan, Fernie resident with seven years experience working for commercial galleries and on public art project in Banff; Erica Hornquist, architect graduate and owner/operator of Wild Wolves Design, and Mel MacVoy, visual artist with a degree in fine art.
The mural will be located on The Beanpod, 691 2 Ave, Fernie, on the outside wall. The mural will be on the side of the building on 7th Street.
Hepher looked up at the blank canvas as he stood on the sidewalk downtown. He admitted he’s both excited, and nervous undertaking a project of this size. It will be his largest painting to date.
“As an artist I’m always trying to find new ways to grow and challenge myself, and this certainly falls into that category,” he said.
“And yet at the same time I’m excited because one of the great things about being an artist in a small town is being able to see your affect on a community, being a part of growing and changing.”
The artist will begin applying the mural on the wall the week of September 2, with the aim to be completed by early October. A celebration and opening will occur around the middle of October, with dates to be confirmed later.
“We are very excited to have this piece added to the Fernie community and public art inventory,” said The Fernie & District Arts Council in a release. The group thanked the Columbia Basin Trust for supporting the project.
To learn more about the project and to read the entire artist’s statement, visit Theartsstation.com/publicart
To see some of Hepher’s other work, visit Michaelhepher.com
(Michael Hepher. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)