Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Remembering Our Spirit

The Vancouver Winter Olympics are old news. Eight months ago, the city and much of the nation was enraptured with the trials and tribulations, victories and defeats of our country’s athletes and the energy in the air across Vancouver was tangible. Although The Games have come and gone and my summer and fall thus far have been filled with personal considerations and creative endeavors, I find myself reflecting on the spirit of The Games as the chill in the air starts to fill this new season.

I consider myself a lucky participant of the spirit of The Games during the weeks that they transpired. I attended a few exciting competitions, took advantage of the Live City entertainment with friends, and was one of the many cheering, crying, high-fiving bodies at Robson and Granville the day we won our coveted Men’s Hockey Gold.

But as an artist, I was also able to participate with and add to the spirit of The Games in a way that was incredibly deep and moving for me. I was hired at several community centres where children’s cheeks waggled under my brush as they excitedly told me more about the Olympic Flame than I ever knew. I was contacted by private clients to paint patriotic faces for events they were going to, one of whom ended up as a two-page, larger-than-life screaming fan spread in Maclean’s Olympic Commemorative Edition. I painted for the BC Pavilion for the hard-working government officials who helped make it all happen. I painted more maple leafs in a month than every Canada Day event I’ve done in my face painting lifetime combined. I was hired by the Yukon Government to create unique face and body paint on an urban youth dance troupe who were flown down to participate in a medals ceremony show at BC Place... The list goes on.

I was able to have brief and creative interactions with a huge amount of people that left me touched and inspired by the enthusiasm and connection we all shared. And as I write this, I am left with the realization that I get to experience this connection with people – mostly children – on a weekly basis with my work. I am honoured that people choose to share 5, 10, 15 minutes of face to face time with me. Thank you to all who have had a seat at my station and have let me create art on their skin. I suppose The Games were a condensed version of my yearly experiences with what I do and that’s why, as I put on my boots and down-filled vest, and my nose turns pink in the cool evening air, a smile comes to my face as I remember it all.