Grade 12 Sullivan Heights Secondary student Thomas Nelles beat out professional artists in his bid for a multicultural mural project, which can be viewed from the Newton Exchange bus loop.
Photograph by: Kevin Hill, Surrey NOW
SURREY – A Surrey teen is the artistic mind behind a new digitally designed mural that graces a wall in Newton.
Grade 12 Sullivan Heights Secondary student Thomas Nelles beat out professional artists in his bid for the project, which can be seen from the Newton Exchange bus loop.
“As a high school student, I had gone up against professional artists 10 years out of university to get this,” he said. “To be told, ‘We want you,’ was amazing.”
Though just finishing high school, the teen has had his share of accomplishments, including winning four documentary photography awards and taking first place in the student 2011 Earth Day Art Show and Competition.
He plans to attend the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design this fall.
The theme of the Newton mural is diversity and was made possible by a $25,000 EmbraceBC arts engagement grant and another $25,000 through in-kind contributions from the City of Surrey and Anthem Properties, which were secured by DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society.
Nelles, who has an extensive digital arts background, said he’s drawn to bringing awareness to social causes in his work.
“As an artist, I like to show my opinion, but get awareness out about certain things. Social causes are one thing I lean to in my work.”
The mural project engaged Surrey residents to develop a mural design representative of the social, cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity of Surrey.
During the community consultation process, Nelles heard many people say they found Surrey to be a very warm place, a very welcoming place and a place full of opportunity.
Nelles said when people were asked about Surrey and what it meant to be Canadian, everyone came up with the maple leaf.
He incorporated four different species of maple leaves into his mural.
“Through the different shapes and colours we get the different ethnicities: We are all Canadian, but we are all different.”
Green is meant to represent Caucasians, red represents First Nations, orange represents South Asians and yellow represents Asians.
Nelles said he hopes people feel an appreciation for multiculturalism when they look at the mural.
“I want people to rethink what their opinions and ideas are, and to see that we’re all one community.” While the mural is intended to communicate social issues, it is also the first large-scale digital mural
in Surrey, said Sullivan Heights Secondary teacher Marc Pelech. The art was digitally transferred onto vinyl, then adhered to the wall.
Surrey student beats out pro artists in bid for multicultural mural project
BY AMY REID, NOW STAFF JUNE 7, 2012 10:43 AM
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