A Vancouver based artist who grew up in Vanderhoof and went to school here, has recently been creating a mural at Nechako Valley Secondary School.
Jessica Wiebe, a former NVSS student, has been painting a mural around the Vikings theme at the school gym. The gym wall is the largest canvas she has ever worked on.
“I have always been drawing and painting, and then after high school, it was something I was focused on,” she says in a conversation with the Express on July 17. Wiebe went to art school in Prince George, after which she moved to Vancouver.
Wiebe worked on the mural consistently over 10 days, clocking in over 8 hours a day. She said it was tough working with a Vikings theme initially, “as there are so many different things to do” and because the dimensions of the wall were challenging.
“I went through a bunch of different ideas. Because of the stuff that is going on in the world with the civil rights movement and more, I wanted to create something that could promote diversity and inclusion,” the 30-year-old painter said.
With her work, Wiebe said she did not want to promote any violence. “I wanted to make people feel that they are safe, that this a good place to be, and that you can feel supported,” she added.
The painter looked into Norse Mythology to find inspiration for the piece, as there is a dragon in the mural and Weibe wanted to connect that to the Vikings. “Thor battles the world serpent ,’Jörmungandr’, in Norse Mythology. So I thought I would have the Vikings battle the world serpent,” she said.
Weibe mostly does water illustrations, acrylic paining and digital work as well, and said being an artist has not been an easy career path to choose or follow through.
“I would say it is definitely still a struggle, but from that I have worked part time and full time jobs on top of doing art. So its always been consistent. Especially in Vancouver, it is an expensive place to live, so you have to find a balance between the two. But I have recently started freelance art, which is super exciting.”
Even though there is some struggle, Wiebe says being an artist is “fulfilling”. “I am not always the best with words, I am on the quiet side. So I find that in my art, I can express myself to my fullest extent.”
Most of her work is nature oriented and through her paintings, she says she wants to show the beauty in the world.
When Wiebe was studying at Nechako Valley Secondary School, her art teacher at the time was Vaughn Mueller. Weibe said Mueller is the reason she is an artist today.
For Mueller, seeing Wiebe paint the mural at the high school is a proud moment as a teacher.
“Jessica has always been a real natural talent, but what always made her amazing and set her apart was her desire to do something great! Combine that with her work ethic and ability to think outside the box and some amazing things happened,” the art teacher said.
Ken Young, principal of NVSS said that the school was looking for art to show diversity. “We are not just athletics, we are not just anything. Now you come to the gym, and you see art. Exciting thing for me is that when kids walk in they can see this interesting piece of art in the gym, as you wouldn’t really expect art here.”
“Its an updated version, there is more symbolism, diverse colours — it is definitely tough merging it with our traditional logo — but now we have this updated version, which I thought was very cool.”
Young said the school’s vision as supported by Mueller is to have art ‘everywhere’.
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