Word to Your Motherland: North Vancouver reconnects cultural ancestries and people with art

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Monday 30 September 2013, in an unveiling ceremony at the North Shore Lookout Shelter, North Vancouver’s latest public art piece, a 100 ft wide mural titled Word to Your Motherland was revealed.

Local and California based street artists Nisha K. SembiMiguel "Bounce" Perez, Take5 and Corey Bulpitt who led its creation, shelter residents and local youth who participated in its design and painting were brought together in celebration.

The event, attended by City of North Vancouver’s Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Councillors Linda Buchanan and Don Bell, project partners and other supporters from the community, was marked by a tone of tremendous respect, solidarity and engagement among all those present.

In his address, Word to Your Motherland co-founder Mandeep Sethi spoke to the project results:

Even on the 20 dollar bill where it has the queen on one side on the other side there’s a quote that says 'Could we know each other in the slightest of ways without the arts' and I think that’s the beauty of this project -- bringing people from so many … not only cultural backgrounds, but economic, international and experiential backgrounds.

The Word to Your Motherland mural is a unique cross-cultural artistic work that visually fuses hip-hop with the cultures of the participating artists’ individual motherlands, paying respect to the diverse roots of local residents and the cultural hybridity that enriches artistic practice and life within North Shore and Metro Vancouver communities.

Located on the west side of the North Shore Lookout Shelter, 705 2nd Street West in North Vancouver, the project was organized by Vancouver based not-for-profit organization Creativa International in partnership with the North Shore Lookout Shelter, with support from the Arts Office, City of North Vancouver, Neptune Shipping, H.A.V.E. Culinary Training Society and High Standard Scaffolding.

On the project vision, Sethi explained:

Word to Your Motherland is all about reconnecting with our cultural ancestry, reconnecting with who we are not only as individuals but as a peoples, not only a peoples from one place in the world, but the entire human family. We’re taking it back to the days when all the lands were connected and even further than that.

And it’s really not about saying 'were one world' or 'we’re one people' and everything is peace. No, it’s actually about starting a conversation that is a little bit more difficult than that. It is a conversation about, I am who I am, and you are who you are, and how are we going to coexist, how are we going to use our differences as strengths, and use the ways in which we view the world differently as points of unity, and how are we going to change our perspective on the ways in which we can participate in a society.

This is especially important here in North America, Turtle Island, where we have been taught for so long that we have to buy, we have to sell, we have to consume, and we have to be a part of a monetary cycle. I think that this mural and this experience has really reinforced with me, and maybe some of the other people in this room, that life is not a monetary cycle, life is a spiritual cycle.

"The City of North Vancouver is honored to house and support one of the largest graffiti murals in the Lower Mainland […] that represents the vibrant cultural diversity and creativity here on the North Shore" -- Mayor Darrell Mussatto

Kate Declerck is the Executive Director for Creativa International and is an ardent advocate for the role of the arts in uniting and building understanding among people. She can be found at @katedeclerck.

This article originally appeared on Creativa International and is reprinted with permission.


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