Steven Teeuwsen with Boreal Bridges mural. Photo by Steven Teeuwsen.

Alum delights shoppers with big, bold boreal mural

February 25, 2020 | Arts & Culture

Visitors to Kingsway Mall are in for a visual treat as they shop. Like any mall, Kingsway adds and moves retail shops around to keep things fresh, but rather than installing plain construction hoarding over the temporarily empty stores, promising an “exciting new retailer coming soon,” the mall has been taking a different approach.

Big, bold murals grace the covered storefronts, featuring work by local artists, including MacEwan University’s own Steven Teeuwsen (Design and Digital Media, ’14). It’s an art gallery and shopping centre all at once.

Bigger, bolder projects

After graduating from MacEwan, Steven worked as a graphic designer, but found he was drawn to public art and bigger, bolder projects — literally.

“I love scaling up a design, whether it is an illustration for a mural or a paper mockup to a sculpture,” he says. “I want to create large artworks that the public can engage with outside of a gallery setting.”

Steven has painted temporary murals for music festivals, but his first permanent outdoor piece came together in Guatemala in 2019. His first project in Edmonton for Kingsway Mall (and so far his biggest) is the 12-foot by 50-foot Boreal Bridges mural. He was inspired by Canada’s boreal forest, which covers more than 57 per cent of Alberta and 58 per cent of Canada, and says, “It’s integral to the ecology and collective conscious of the region.”

He has also discovered that lessons from MacEwan’s design program have become useful in roundabout ways, like how a couple of 3-D design courses are proving their usefulness as he works on murals and, recently, sculptures for the Silver Skate Festival.

Next up

While there are challenges in creating large works of art, Steven says he is drawn to doing more projects of this scale. He even just started work on a second mural for the mall.

“Mural painting and art installations are something that have been slowly building on the sidelines of my career,” he says. “Public art is the direction that I am aiming for.”

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