Day 235 - Emily

Day 235 - Emily (1st person I approached)
August 23, 2014 - I was out for a walk on the seawall, and spotted a group of people painting parts of a large mural on the ground at Spyglass Place. I’m a huge fan of public art, and figured that there would be a story amongst the artists. I found out that there were a number of volunteers contributing their talent and time. Emily was the lead artist, and when I told her what I was doing, she was more than happy to chat with me. She continued to paint while we chatted.

 

Emily was born in Vancouver. She grew up on an oyster farm on the Sunshine Coast, a collection of islands and peninsulas off the west coast of Canada, northwest of Vancouver (British Columbia - BC).

“My parents met working at the Vancouver Aquarium. Growing up on an oyster farm was incredible. It was beautiful and isolated, about twenty minutes by boat from the nearest town. I spent a lot of time outside  playing games. I also painted a lot to keep myself entertained. I have two older brothers and we were definitely pretty close as kids. We were all home schooled,” said Emily.

“I think that rather than feeling overly protected by two older brothers, I was probably more of a tomboy because of growing up with them,” said Emily.

 

Before Emily was in her teens, the family moved to Egmont, on the north end of the Sechelt Peninsula.

“We all went to public school in Egmont. I think the transition was probably easier for me than my brothers. My oldest brother was fifteen at the time, and that’s a difficult age to settle into a new school. I was able to make friends. It’s not like it was a big city either, there were only about two hundred people living in Egmont,” said Emily.

 

After finishing high-school, Emily moved to Vancouver (BC).

”I moved here to go to Emily Carr (College of Art and Design). I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue, and in my foundation year, I discovered ceramics. I didn’t do very much painting at school. For my fourth year graduation piece, I made a vegetable green wall out of terracotta wall planters. It’s currently on loan and hanging in Pender Harbour (BC). My parents are renovating their home just now, and then I hope to hang the green wall at their place once they are finished,” she said. 

 

Emily graduated from Emily Carr with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.

"I was planning to go traveling after I graduated. I was going to either teach English in Asia, or be a WWOOFer in Mexico (volunteering on an organic farm in exchange for room and board. *Fact Check - see links below). I was checking things out on Craigslist and sending out emails looking for a work-stay situation. I came across a hostel in Hawaii that was looking to have a mural painted. So I went to Hawaii,” she said. Emily stayed there for two years.

“I had painted six murals during the time I was in Hawaii. I met a man while living there. He was a tattoo artist from Mexico and he taught me how to tattoo. I came home for a visit to see my family. When I was going to back to Hawaii, I didn’t have a return ticket and the authorities didn’t like that. I said I was going to stay in Hawaii for a few months. They gave me one month. So that last month there was more like a sad month of saying goodbye,” she said.

 

When Emily came back to Vancouver, she continued to paint murals. (**Fact Check - see links below.)

“I got a great job which allowed me to support myself. I work on ‘Mum’s Grilled Cheese Truck.’ (YUM!) I’m so fortunate because (the owner) is a great boss, they have a really good product and all my co-workers are good friends,” she said.

 

The mural Emily was working on today is a collaborative effort between the City of Vancouver and CityStudio - a hub of learning and leadership that brings art students and post-secondary schools together to create opportunities to contribute to arts in the City. The same program brought us the ten pianos around the City and this summer a number of murals were added to our city landscape.

“I was asked to supply three designs and given a location where the final selection would be produced. We had community input and came up with a design. It really is a collaborative effort. Yesterday we had people from the local community show up to help with the painting. The design evolved to include some ideas that weren’t in the initial design,” said Emily. The mural is based on the thought of what the area might look like in one hundred years. It also takes into account the water level art piece painted on the columns under the Cambie Street bridge.

 

The entire time we talked, maybe thirty minutes or so, people were coming and going and asking questions of Emily. There was a constant steam of people on bikes, jogging along the seawall and walking past that stopped to take pictures of the mural as it was being painted.

 

“We’re having an event here on Tuesday evening (August 26th) to launch the mural," said Emily. The ‘Keys to the Street Sunset Serenade’ will take place between 6-10pm with live performances between 7-9pm.

"It’s a great chance for the community to come celebrate together. I hope we’ll see you!”  #notastranger


*Fact Check - http://wwoofinternational.org/how-it-works/
**Fact Check - http://emilygray.wix.com/art#!
***Fact Check - http://momsgrilledcheesetruck.com
****Fact Check - http://citystudiovancouver.com