I believe that creative expression can be a very powerful tool for social change an engagement. As an Art facilitator my main objective is to be able to promote social equality, self-esteem, empowerment and motivation through education and artistic expression to individuals and communities alike. I have been facilitating community art projects alongside my own artistic career for over 15 years.
My motivation comes from the belief that every human being has the capacity and right to health, education, a safe environment, respect, and freedom of expression. My experiences of working within different communities in North and South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, have opened my consciousness to very different and difficult social contexts. Being able to participate and collaborate alongside other community artivists and organizations has become a huge benefit to my personal and professional growth as an artist and human being.
In 2015, The Essencia Arts Collective (Shalak, Fiya, Smoky) painted Canada's longest mural dedicated to the global discussion on Climate Change and the importance of environmental preservation and education. As a chapter two of the The Essencia's 2015 Water Mural, a series of community workshops and personal research impacted the visual story line of the mural. The mural "Awakening" became part of a controversial decision by a city councillor to erase part of the mural as he deemed it "too scary". With a massive media and community outrage of the possible censorship, the final decision was to preserve the murals integrity and image in its original form. The huge outpour of support by local and international communities protected the mural and its crucial message for one of present days most pressing global issues: Climate Change and our addiction to fossil fuel energy.
The Essencia Art Collective (Shalak, Fiya, Smoky) invited over 20 local and international artists to participate in the Toronto's first Environmental Arts Engaged Mural projects in 2014. This was Essencia's 3rd official nomadic festival and it was dedicated to WATER.
Shalak Attack was lead artist for a series of workshops and community mural creation in the Esplanade neighbourhood, Toronto in 2014. The process took over 3 months, starting with workshops teaching history and theories about Murals and world wide community art engaged projects, as well as brainstorming and creation of the murals. Shalak engaged with over 15 youth of the community in weekly workshops, and was assisted by Bruno Smoky and Julian Periquet.
In the summer of 2013, The Essencia Arts Collective (Shalak, Fiya and Smoky) worked on a community mural with the Black Creek Community Farm on Jane St, north of Finch Ave in Toronto. Local artists, youth and farm supporters were part of the process from conceiving themes and representations all the way to painting the mural. It was a successful project to bring visual awareness of the farms location and representation of their work within the City.
In 2011, the mural "Inspire.Love' was created by Shalak and Fiya, together with the Beloved Movement and several community groups of the Jane and Finch area in Toronto, Canada. This project was part of a series of community initiatives to educate and End Gender Based Violence. The images of this mural were inspired by a series of community workshops given by the two sisters Fiya and Shalak.
Shalak and Fiya (Bruxas Crew) 30ft x 12 ft Spray paint, 25 San Romanoway, Toronto, Canada, August 2011.
From 2006-2009 I worked in Montreal at la Maison des Jeunes CDN as a visual arts facilitator and art program coordinator. Creation en Couleur was the name of the community arts based programs we created there, which included painting, mural/graffiti, drawing and painting, as well as arts a nd culture field trips around the city. The painting workshops consisted of introduction to graffiti painting, and evolved in the winter months to a studio painting workshop were the youth could focus on individual painting projects. The youths' interest and the success of these workshops were so strong and received great feedback. In the spring of 2008, MDJ received a grant from the city of Montreal to officially support this program, and we have been able to create an official arts studio with the necessary materials accessible for the youth. During this time we organized several group exhibitions were the youth could show their amazing creations. Some youth even sold their artwork to private collectors through our program and exhibits, that in turn helped them with basic needs such as buying winter clothing and after school meals. The images of their artwork was also chosen to be apart of McGill's SEDE 2008-09 calendar.
Within this time period the youth were able to visit my own personal mural sites through out the City as part of the field trips, and were directly involved and part of the inspiration of the mural NORTE SUR (2008) funded by the Vivacite Montreal Art Grants, and the I AM HIP HOP mural at the MDJ-CND Decurtrai location where the music and theatre workshops take place.