This entry is part of the 2010 mural artist update series…
Cuba, MO: Viva Cuba was very lucky in its choice of an artist for the first mural in 2001. Cuba artist Shelly Smith Steiger guided the choice while seeking information about outdoor murals. She initiated an Internet correspondence with Canadian Michelle Loughery, an experienced mural artist from Vernon, British Columbia.
The correspondence resulted in Loughery and her teenage daughter traveling to Cuba in 2001 to paint Viva Cuba’s first mural the A.J. Barnett/Model T mural to commemorate Peoples Banks’ 100th Anniversary. Later, she returned to Cuba, accompanied by artist Sarah Lindsay, to paint the Gold Star Boys mural. Steiger apprenticed under Loughery while these murals were painted and is now an outdoor mural artist herself.
Loughery has since been commissioned by the City of New York to paint a commemorative mural for 9/11, and the photographic display is now part of a collection in the Smithsonian Museum. Loughery calls her murals Heritage Murals because they express the history and culture of the communities where they are located. During her career, she has painted more than 80 murals.
Besides being a world-renowned muralist, Loughery founded the Youth Mural Project where she works with at-risk youth on painting projects. Under her tutorship and guidance, these youth create not only murals but also new lives. Loughery mentors the young people as to life and job skills and encourages them to see art as a sustainable business and a economic tool. Loughery’s young crews have gone on to not only careers in art but also in other professions as well.
Loughery’s mural projects have connected a network of murals across Canada to create new opportunities for tourism in some of Canada’s small towns. In 2008, she created the Loughery Mural Artworks Foundation, a non-for-profit organization using the Wayfinder Project to paint murals in communities in Canada and around the world using at-risk youth from ages 15-29.
One of Loughery’s most exciting projects has been her involvement since 2004 in the Merritt Walk of Stars Society. She and the city of Merritt partnered to create a tourism draw of over sixty larger-than-life murals of Country and Western stars to make Merritt the Country Music Capital of Canada. The country artists are ones who have performed at the Merritt Mountain Life Festival. In the process Loughery has met the stars and legends of Country Western Music as well as helped change the lives of the youth who have worked with her.
Loughery and the Merritt Project was featured in a documentary Shadows on the Wall about the project and how it involves youth in the community’s project.
Viva Cuba feels fortunate to have had Michelle Loughery as part of its own heritage of murals.