Folks out for a walk along the east end of Empire Avenue in St. John’s over the last few days may have noticed a colourful mural taking shape.
Kathy Oke, a young artist entering her fourth and final year of fine arts at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus, is responsible for the sunny image adorning a stone wall near the intersection of Empire Avenue and Carpasian Road.
“My friend who works at the Eastern Edge Gallery let me know that there was someone looking for a mural to be done on their wall, so he gave me the number and I gave them a call, and here we are,” said Oke, who is from St. Philip’s.
The wall had hosted a different mural for years. The old one depicted train tracks similar to those that once stretched along Empire Avenue.
Stretching east to west, the mural shows children running from the sun with streams of colour shooting from their hands that originate from the sun. The image is dominated by orange, yellow and red, with large daisies popping out of the green grass on which the children run.
“As the sun moves across the sky, the children are getting older, and they all have paint brushes, so they’re all kind of painting their own future,” said the artist, who shared a sketch of her concept with homeowners Chris and Shirley Facey before she started applying paint to the wall.
Monday marked her third day working on the mural. Oke, who fuelled herself with cupcakes and lemonade as she worked her way through a hot Monday afternoon, expects it may take two more days to finish the piece.
While she was involved in the creation of a mural at her high school three years ago, Oke said, that experience does not compare with her new outdoor creation, which is larger and more detailed.
She has enjoyed working on the mural thus far, benefiting from the dry weather that has settled over the city through the majority of the summer.
“I kind of like the sun. It’s better than the rain.”
Career in art
Following her final year of studies in Corner Brook, Oke is not entirely sure what her immediate plans will be, although she eventually hopes to obtain a master of fine arts degree and pursue a career as an artist.
“I’ve always really, since I can remember, just loved drawing, and one day my parents bought me some paints, and I probably started painting when I was 12, and I didn’t stop. When it came time to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I decided to go with being an artist.”