Dimitry Melman with the Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA)
Program: Youth WITH ART
Location: The MERC (Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre) at 430 Langside Street
Medium: ceramic tile mosaic
This large-scale outdoor mosaic project was spearheaded by youth from its inception. Youth worked together with Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA) staff to apply to be matched with an artist through WAC's Youth WITH ART community public art program. After a rigorous review and interview process, the youth chose artist Dimitry Melman to collaborate with on an artwork that would transform the outside of the MERC (Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre) to better reflect all of the great things going on inside.
Over the course of a year, Dimitry worked with children and youth from the afterschool and evening programs to design, cut and lay out the tile for the mosaic. There were over forty children and youth between the ages of six and sixteen that contributed along with their families and other community volunteers.
The community wanted to reference sports, music, art, learning, creativity, teamwork, development, growth and opportunity in the artwork. They also wanted to honour the five volunteers who started the SNA by including five open doors and five figures. The life in the figures comes from the youth who posed for them. “This public art installation is a celebration and tribute to the SNA and the community.” - Dimitry Melman, Artist
While the artwork was being imagined and created, the City of Winnipeg was working to further enhance the MERC’s outdoor space with the installation of a new play structure and green space.
“Everything we do at SNA is about building relationships and connections with our youth, community members and the community we live in. Being able to improve, enhance and bring to life the outside space and the walls of the building is amazing! It highlights the dreams and opportunities we all work to make happen for our community and puts it into a beautiful artwork.” – Jamil Mahmood, Executive Director, SNA
Opening Doors was celebrated with a community BBQ at the MERC on October 17, 2016.
Dimitry Melman’s artwork in oil and mosaic is installed in private collections and is on public display in locations around the world. In addition to his thirty-year studio practice, Melman engages with his community through work with schools, drop in centres and through workshops and classes for people of all ages.
The Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA) works with the people of Spence to revitalize and renew their community in the areas of Holistic Housing, Community Connecting, Community Economic Development, Environment and Open Spaces and Youth and Families.
SNA has been programming in partnership with the City of Winnipeg out of the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre for over 15 years. They see an average of one hundred youth through the doors daily and annually work with about three thousand youth from the community and the inner city of Winnipeg. SNA provides everything from after-school programs to organized art, sports and recreational opportunities. Additionally, they provide gang prevention, wrap-around employment, and youth leadership programming for the community. This past June they began opening the MERC twenty-four hours on weekends and school holidays. SNA are led by and serve all those in their community and especially those most in need!