In the days since she was announced as the 2day FM and TELUS Bring Back the Mural contest winner, Serena Love says she’s received amazing messages of support. Her winning design based on the theme “Grande Prairie is a diverse, inclusive and welcoming community” was unveiled on the side of the TELUS building in downtown Grande Prairie Saturday.
“People have been messaging me that grew up here but have since moved away for the last few years, and when they saw that this mural had come out and that Grande Prairie showcased it on the TELUS building, they were so proud,” she says. “Their idea of Grande Prairie is changing because of it.”
More than 4,500 people voted for four finalists in the online contest, run by local radio station 104.7 2day FM. Love’s design is a colourful painting of a woman with an afro made up the world’s continents wearing a t-shirt that reads, “100% HUMAN.”
She says it was designed specifically for the contest and came together just a few days before the submission deadline. She adds it is about more than the community being accepting of all.
“It was, for me, about being able to look into the mirror and being able to accept myself. I think that was the greatest gift out of this whole contest and project, that I learned that I can look in the mirror and accept who I am.”
The idea for the contest itself was born out of the positive and negative response to the painting of a rainbow crosswalk during 2017’s Pride week. There was previously a mural on the side of the TELUS building painted by local artist Tim Heimdal, but it had to be covered due to structural issues.
TELUS general manager for Alberta North Brian Bettis says the company knew it was beloved and had become a focal point for the community.
“I don’t think in any way this mural attempt is intended to replace that. I think it simply restores it an opens a second chapter that reflects, kind of, the growth in the community.”
The new mural is printed on vinyl and is roughly four stories tall by two stories wide. TELUS has donated the mural space to the city, which has committed to maintaining it for at least the next three years. Bettis says this project is the first of its kind for the corporation.
“Certainly, I’ve never been involved in something this scale and scope and I would say it took a very special collaboration between 2day FM, TELUS, and the City of Grande Prairie to make this come to life.”
Bettis adds the project was a natural fit for TELUS, as diversity is one of the company’s biggest focuses. It also works into the city’s plans for downtown revitalization.