Pop-up photography tour capturing moments across Wood Buffalo for mural project

·2 min read
The artists went to Fort Chipewyan to take photos and video for a mural project. (Submitted by Crystal Mercredi - image credit)
The artists went to Fort Chipewyan to take photos and video for a mural project. (Submitted by Crystal Mercredi - image credit)

Two artists are travelling around Wood Buffalo, capturing photos and videos of the region to create a mural that will be displayed in downtown Fort McMurray.

Public Art Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism partnered to bring the pop-up photography tour to the region. Crystal Mercredi, owner of Life and Portraits, has taken around 11,000 photos for the project, with more to come.

The project has been well-received, with some residents going above and beyond, touring her about their communities, she said. The tour has allowed her to see things she didn't even know were in the area.

"We went all throughout Draper, we saw horses, we did berry-picking, we had beekeeping, a firepit on the river, ATVing," said Mercredi.

"All that was arranged because some people in Draper were passionate about where they live."

She has travelled to Fort Chipewyan, Draper — southeast of Fort McMurray's lower townsite — and will be in Janvier on Sunday.

Submitted by Crystal Mercredi
Submitted by Crystal Mercredi

Mercredi hopes to fit everyone she has seen along the pop-up tour on the mural.

The goal of the project is to "capture the great beauty of the region and also capture the reality of the people that are here," said Kevin Weidlich, president and CEO of Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism.

If a someone searched photos of Wood Buffalo online, the images are not necessarily reflective of the community, he explained. This project is meant to help change the narrative.

There has so far been a lot of positive feedback from residents who are happy to be represented, said Weidlich.

"It's actually quite inspiring."

Meanwhile, Lucas Seaward, graphics designer with WBEDT, is shooting a video to release a vision of Fort McMurray to the rest of Canada.

Submitted by Crystal Mercredi
Submitted by Crystal Mercredi

"Even when you think you know the area, the neighbourhood that you're in, you'd be surprised," he said.

Seaward, who has about 50 hours of video to work with, he will be making a series of shorter videos to release.

"We would rather capture it and go through it, than miss moments," said Seaward.

A hard timeline hasn't been set for the mural to be installed, but Deanne Bergey expects to see it some time this year.

"Telling the stories of our people and the land is really important and I think having it showcased in the park is a really wonderful tribute to that," said Bergey, director of community and protective services with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The municipality put $30,000 toward the project.

Submitted by Crystal Mercredi
Submitted by Crystal Mercredi

The last stop on the tour is Fort Fitzgerald on Monday.

There's an opportunity for residents to sign up for mentorship programs, where they can shadow Seaward and Mercredi along on the project.

"It's just a great opportunity to network," said Mercredi.

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