Mural will link BIPOC communities, N.S. culture in downtown Halifax
Artists 'shocked, but so excited' to showcase their work in their adopted city
November 17, 2022, 2:18 pm ASTLast Updated: November 17, 2022, 5:06 pm
Two Nigerian-born artists will combine their colourful, surreal portraits with iconic Nova Scotia landscapes in four new public murals later this year.
Daramfon Morgan (Dcm Art Creations) and Victor Nwaokpani (4ideben) are Halifax-based artists who primarily work in digital art. Their newest display, Halifax in Colour, is their largest commission yet. It will comprise four individual panels in one mural that will use recognizable landmarks from around the province to highlight the link between BIPOC communities and Nova Scotia culture.
The project is part of the Gritty to Pretty Placemaking grant program organized by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, now in its eighth year. Morgan and Nwaokpani were picked alongside eight other grant recipients to rejuvenate downtown Halifax.
“We honestly didn’t think we were going to get it. We’re shocked, but so excited to have gotten this,” said Nwaokpani.
They have collaborated on an alternative method of mural art. They said they considered many extra factors while developing their display.
“We toned down the surrealist aspects on our upcoming work. We didn’t want our art to be confusing. We chose landmarks that everyone knows to make sure that anyone could recognize these places immediately,” said Morgan.
“We wanted to make art that eventually becomes a part of the city. There are some places around Halifax that you know right away because of artwork like this. Art has the ability to make hidden gems more noticeable to someone walking by,” said Nwaokpani.
Morgan moved to Halifax 10 years ago. Since then he has learned about Black Atlantic history. He said that while the modern experience of Black Atlantic residents is intertwined with historical Black Atlantic culture, there were few noticeable works of art that he could identify with.
“When I first moved here there wasn’t a lot of art. That has changed in the last few years, and I want to be able to give someone a sense of belonging. If our art does that for someone, that is great,” he said.
The two artists are quick to highlight the contributions of Eben Nwaokpani, Victor’s brother, for inspiring their upcoming display. Eben is enrolled at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria but plans on coming to Halifax once he has completed his studies.
The display will be mounted near Pizza Corner in downtown Halifax by early winter.
The business commission runs programs such as the Gritty-to-Pretty program as one way of revitalizing downtown Halifax for both locals and visitors.
Jonathan Goldson, the business commission’s placemaking manager, said this mural is an opportunity to tell a story that doesn’t get much attention.
“Our Gritty-to-Pretty Placemaking grant program has a storytelling component to our selection process. And we think Halifax in Colour tells a story that isn’t heard very often. We are excited to showcase this mural in downtown Halifax.
“Morgan and Victor have been able to join maritime components with BIPOC experiences. We believe that supporting works of art like this are important for the local Halifax community but the wider Nova Scotia area as well.”
Morgan and Nwaokpani know they have a chance to represent the unique history of Black Atlantic residents, but also to develop an artistic display that addresses some of the challenges urban artists face.
They understand that paint might fade, so they are working with metallic prints. Halifax is a quickly developing city, so they made the artwork moveable. They are even taking steps to be environmentally conscious. One simple example is using alcohol instead of paint thinners when removing paint.
“We want people to notice our art, but not have our art be intrusive to the community,” said Morgan.
Morgan and Nwaokpani both recognize the responsibility that this commission bears, but they are excited to have their art affect the city in a meaningful way.
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