New mural in Whitehorse stays away from 'traditional Yukon themes'

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Asia Hyde, 25, said she wanted her first mural to be more imaginative and 'whimsical' because she wanted to stay away from traditional Yukon historical themes. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC - image credit)
Asia Hyde, 25, said she wanted her first mural to be more imaginative and 'whimsical' because she wanted to stay away from traditional Yukon historical themes. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC - image credit)

At 25-years-old, Asia Hyde is the designer and illustrator behind the new mural in downtown Whitehorse. Hyde said she stayed away from the "standard Whitehorse mural themes," wanting her art to be more imaginative and less historical.

"It's still kind of Yukon-y. A little bit fantastical and a little bit whimsical," she said.

The wall painting in the Road Dogs Music parking lot was part of the second annual Wonderhorse, Emerging Arts and Music Festival. The mural unveiling was on Saturday afternoon, shortly before a pop-up music concert by musicians Franklin and Antarticus.

Although the festival doesn't have a formal mural selection process, Jona Barr, a board member of the Society of Something Shows which organizes the festival, said the team was on the lookout for younger local artists who are creating "exciting" art.

"Asia and her team were so amazing and hardworking," said Barr. "It was a real honour to work with them and see the thought and care that they put into the mural."

This is Hyde's first large-scale painting.

"Working on this was a really great opportunity to expand my repertoire," she said.

Hyde said she only had a week to complete the 12 by 60 feet-long mural.

"I'm not usually comfortable working on big pieces. Having a deadline for it definitely helped to pace the progress of the piece," said the artist, who completed mural on Thursday before its unveiling.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC

Hyde studied arts at the University of Alberta and has been doing freelance work around Whitehorse since her final school semester in 2020.

"I'd love to do more murals if I have the opportunity to do it," she said.

The inspiration behind the mural

Hyde's art usually incorporates elements of folklore, flora or fauna.

For her recent piece, she said she wanted to mirror a nautical landscape.

"I wanted to go with something kind of relaxing that a lot of people might enjoy. So, we ended with fish, very big fish and a very small island," said the Whitehorse-born artist.

The painting features large fish in and out of the water surface and a small island with cherry blossom trees surrounding it. The mural comes in various shades of blue, orange, bright pink, and tones of purple.

"With the colour palette, I kinda wanted to do something more whimsical, not photo-realistic by any means," said Hyde, who explained that the meaning of the mural is up for interpretation.

While the art depicts playful bright colours, painting it came with a few challenges.

First of all, the wall has two different textures. While most of the work is on the lower half of the wall, there are some parts that go into the gravel-like section.

"We were finding a lot of the issue with painting up there was if you press too hard, some of the wall texture will crumble off, because it is quite an old building," said Hyde.

Other obstacles were the drying time and weather conditions.

"The days we didn't get rained out it was pretty sunny," she said. "The last day was really, really cold and it was a little tricky to be working in those conditions, especially with paint brushes and water. It's not spray paint, so it's a lot longer of a drying time, a lot more fiddly."