This painting marks the end of a wonderful journey – I have completed the Intersection Art Project! I am very grateful to Encompass Partnerships and all the partners I got to work with this past year for opening the door on their organizations and allowing me to visually share on their behalf the work that they do that makes a difference in Calgary and the surrounding area. I’m thankful for your efforts and my eyes have been opened not only to the challenges that many people in our city face but to the sacrificial work done by many in order to lend a hand to those who need it.
I think it is apt that the feature of this painting is two friends sharing about their lives, this is a great note to end on. The organization this piece is for is Cooperative ESL Ministries which ironically, does not teach ESL directly to newcomers to Canada. I learned that they focus their time on equipping a variety of organizations with the skills and resources to welcome immigrants and refugees into their communities, primarily by offering ESL classes and building relationships through that. Language is a huge factor in acclimatizing to a new country or culture. The most basic things like shopping or navigating paperwork can be enormously complicated if you do not understand the local language. For someone who is new to the area and might not know anyone who can help them overcome these challenges, a new culture can be an enormous shift. This organization aims to help people navigate through this time with the end result being that these people have been fully welcomed into the community.
In this painting, I started off with a hearth (traditionally the centre of the home) and then added two people in conversation. This is on a surface level to show the welcoming nature of the hearth, but on a deeper level to show that these two people are sharing about themselves with a common language - which speaks to CESLM’s mission. By being able to share in a common language, the bond of friendship strengthens. It is a painting about the desired outcome - the stranger is welcomed in and becomes familiar.
This past year has been a great journey, I am so glad that I have had the chance to be welcomed in at Encompass and for all the new friends I have made along the way!