Winter has settled in for the next few months and fresh blankets of snow are systematically covering most, if not all, of nature’s beautiful colours that we experience the rest of the year. This is not the case in Nemaska, however, thanks to a colourful public art project created by Mettaweskum high school teacher Neo Yaxley.

Yaxley conceived the Deck Nemaska in Art project a few months back as she walked through the community and noticed there were a lot of “bins” that could make great canvases for public art. The original idea took form as a project for her students but has since turned out to be something that also benefits the community.

Artistically the project set out to “bring an explosion of colour to the community” while allowing the art students, from secondary 1 to 5, to express themselves. Yaxley introduced the assignment to her students last August. She was surprised at their initial lack of enthusiasm. But it didn’t take long for them to get excited after getting some positive feedback from the community.

The word positive is key in this undertaking. Although the project is rooted in visual art and in teaching various creative techniques, it was important to Yaxley to communicate the power and influence that images have on a community.

The requirement for a positive vibe was non-negotiable for Yaxley, who explained her vision with a quote from Robert Schumann: the objective should be to “send light into the human heart.” With that in mind, students were also asked to find uplifting quotes to incorporate within the bin murals.

With a few guidelines and an understanding of new art techniques the students worked together to create the images they would share with the community. Once the sketches were ready the students put the plan into action, a task that might not have been possible without the help of the Nemaska Youth Department, which not only gave them the green light, but also provided a large portion of the project funding.

Although the project is on hold for the duration of winter, once the thaw arrives the project will resume and the community of Nemaska can look forward to many more bin murals that share positive messages and uplifting vibrant artwork.