Six life-size action figures jump off the wall of the former North Y’s indoor skate park. Each dynamic piece was created using unconventional materials. If you look closely you can identify all sorts of interesting items such as skateboards and magazines donated by Sk8; computer parts/circuit boards donated by Urban Mine; bike wheels from the WRENCH and the Bike Dump; PVC piping; tempered glass; resin and stucco. To recreate the intricate pattern of Louis Riel’s Métis sash, one of the silhouettes is however made primarily of tiles, a medium more traditionally associated with mosaics. Stucco was also applied through a pastry bag to add texture.
The artwork was created through the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Youth WITH ART community public art program when the North Y Youth Centre was matched with mosaic artist Ursula Neufeld. Before embarking on the major installation, Ursula got to know the children and youth who make up this community by exploring their feelings about the Youth Centre through drawing. Based on these drawings, they created six stained-glass panels to hang inside the windows visible to the public from McGregor Street. Throughout the year, they continued to make art to celebrate the importance of the North Y in their lives. They had the opportunity to learn all sorts of new skills while working with a variety of materials and tools. And even the artist was able to further develop her skills on this project. The children wanted an industrial look for their new entry sign, and through staff at the Y Neufeld was invited to try welding. She worked with Derek Chalmers at Princess Auto to weld letters out of metal scraps. The children mosaicked these letters with keys, nuts and bolts, and steel toy parts to create a welcome sign dubbing the space SKATE 363.
“ I found that the more imagination and skill development that was encouraged, the more the participants felt confident to join, explore, create, laugh, express their creativity and share their life experiences,” - Ursula Neufeld, artist.
" The artwork is an incredible addition to the North Y. The vibrant colour and illusion of motion really add an aesthetic of fun and expression to the space." - Ken Mason, Manager Child & Youth Opportunities, YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg
SKATE 363 was celebrated with a community supper at the North Y on May 4, 2017.