The Mural That Never Was

serena malyon nathan swazye calgary illustrators sketch space

This past May, Nathan Swayze and I put together a proposal for a mural at a local school. Langevin school, a school known for its emphasis on science, was looking for a mural to cover a large concrete stairwell next to their playground. Neither of us had ever put together a real “proposal” for a public art project, but we’re always ready for a challenge, so Nathan and I got to work analyzing their call for submissions. Having already done a mural earlier this year (MARKET Calgary), Nathan and I felt that we might actually be able to tackle something of this scale.

Nathan took care of much of the design while I researched things like our budget, materials, insurance, techniques, rentals, and possible long-term care proposals. We both took a week off and worked on it every waking moment. Nathan was composing and painting non-stop while I was calling paint manufacturers and trying to work out what sort of sandblasters we’d need to prep the cement. The research we did was as much for our proposal as it was for us, we needed to know whether we were working on a project that we could conceivably complete. By the due date, we had a fun, versatile composition that we both loved and a proposal that we could stand behind confidently.

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One of our preliminary sketches

Our concept was simple, the concrete structure would be covered in a painted timeline of scientific discovery and human achievement. The call for submissions requested that we find a way to incorporate student art into the piece. Our idea was to have students paint the scientific discovery that they find the most interesting, and Nathan and I would place their painting within our mural’s timeline.

serena malyon nathan swayze illustration calgary art langevin science school mural concept art

The final concept that we submitted

Nathan and I went for an interview a few weeks ago and met with the Langevin mural board, and we all had a great discussion about the piece. Though we didn’t wind up getting the job (probably due to the fact that neither of us have ever painted anything on this scale before), we had a great time working on it, and we’re pretty proud that we even got a call-back. The following images are our photoshopped mock-ups of the mural. Photo credits go to the Langevin mural committee.

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I think this was a big stepping stone for us branching out into public art. As a subject that was never approached during our time in the Visual Communications (Design) stream at ACAD, we had no real grasp on where to start. From my understanding, writing grant and public art proposals is something learned in the Fine Arts side of the school. Having done some research on our own time and by simply doing our best, we’ve learned a lot about the process and requirements. Now that we know the basics, its opened up a lot of new possibilities for Nathan and myself.

My Mom’s Artsy Odyssey

betty malyon safran my artsy odyssey

My moms half of the family is very artsy. Her parents Adele and Bernard Safran were both artists, and as a result she’s led a pretty interesting life. When she was just a kid, they abandoned their life in NYC for a secluded life on a farm in New Brunswick. She’s got lots of anecdotes about life with two artist parents, and she’s led an interesting life since then too. She just started a blog about her life, and thus far its really interesting, I’m learning things about her I never knew (and she’s only two posts in!). So if you’re interested in hearing her stories, check out her blog here.