Community murals have their roots in the mural movements of Mexico and of the United States. The narrative and expressive works that line the walls of public buildings and courtyards, streets, parks and highways of Mexican and American cities have provided the genesis for an ever-evolving mural movement of activism and social change that continues to the present day. These precedents have had significant impact on the evolution of Canadian murals, where artists find ways to enhance and strengthen their communities that often are marginalized, or at odds with the politics of the day. These works are never simply individual efforts, but are often collaborations between artists and local residents, resulting in permanent works that rise from the heart of the community, rather than by being imposed upon it. The resulting works remain as permanent icons of community identity, creating landmarks within the urban environment.

Because artists who work in community murals are involved in networking through outreach and workshops, archives of each mural are included in this overview of Vancouver murals.   Ranging from first concepts to final layout, this process is a powerful reflection of community engagement.

Alan Barnett, an eminent scholar on murals, in his book Community Murals commented,  “Murals are presented as a catalyst, capable of initiating social or even political change by creating public awareness, providing a social critique, asserting a community’s identity, fostering team spirit, and sometimes encouraging action. Barnett claims enthusiastically, ‘murals are freeing ordinary people from ways of seeing that are not their own and helping them take control of their perceptions, which is necessary to their taking charge of their own lives’.

We hope as you explore the various neighbourhoods that make up a part of East Vancouver that you experience the richness of the history, culture and communities and all that they have to offer.

On behalf of Creative Cultural Collaborations Society, enjoy the artistic feast that surrounds you on these tours. We hope to continue this project and in the near future document all of the murals in Vancouver. Many thanks to the City of Vancouver for supporting this initiative. Special thanks go to Wendy Au, Kristina Copeland and Sandra Nikolic.

Co-directors Esther Rausenberg and Richard Tetrault

Creative Cultural Collaborations Society

January 2012