In times of crisis, communities come together. For Culture Days in 2020, Twila Napoleoni with Bara’ Academy of the Arts is the host of This Picture IS 1,000 (or more) Words, which aims to show the community of Yorkton through their stories.
Napoleoni has been a long-time participant in Culture Days, but said that she knew from the outset that this year would be different, because limits to the number of people who could get together would make traditional ideas like painting classes impossible. The inspiration for this project came from the theme of Culture Days this year, “Unexpected Intersections,” which made her think about the downtown park, as it is a meeting place in the city. With COVID-19 affecting everyone’s lives in the world, she thought about how that has affected people.
“I thought that it would be nice to put everyone’s perspective and stories together in a work of art.”
The goal of the piece is to get encouraging words on the canvas. Napoleoni believes this best represents how the community is able to support each other through a crisis, and is an extension of what she has watched happen in Yorkton as people react to the crisis around them.
“There’s social distance, but people really got together, neighbors who didn’t know each other, and strangers who didn’t know each other, really helped one another out. I want to continue with that theme that we’ve been running with for the past few months.”
Naturally having an interactive art exhibit in the middle of a pandemic does offer its own range of challenges. The main one is sanitation, and they aim to keep sanitizer wipes at the piece that people can wipe down makers before and after writing on the piece.
Napoleoni admits that having a piece like this is inherently risky, as not everyone might stay positive on the work. She said she trusts people in Yorkton to understand the vision.
“There can be some fear, some controversy, but I didn’t want to focus on that at all. I want to focus on, in spite of everything that’s happening, what are the good things that are happening?”
The goal is to have it covered in words, but there is paint on the piece to help guide people in what colour should be where. The central image is two hands coming together, with a buffalo and wheat sheaf to represent the area’s heritage, and the City of Yorkton’s logo to represent the present day. The image represents people coming together and helping each other.
While it’s more difficult to have Culture Days in 2020, Napoleoni believes that culture is the heart of a community, and that it is important to keep promoting culture even if gatherings are more difficult this year.
“It’s who we are and how we express ourselves that make us unique, as a city and how we express ourselves.”
To contribute to the project, go to Western Financial Group City Centre Park at any time until Oct. 25.