Claudia Salguero stands in the empty gymnasium of Viscount Alexander elementary school on Mann Avenue, beside the “Belonging” mural that she painted with the students pre-pandemic.
Originally from Colombia, Claudia has called Ottawa home for the past twenty years and is literally changing the face of the city. Across Ottawa, you can find more than 40 of her bright, colourful, joyful murals on the exterior and interior of buildings, in community centres, shopping centres, public libraries, schools and parks. Claudia calls herself a Community Engaged Artist. She is a proud MASC artist (Multicultural Arts for Schools and Communities) and board member of Arts Network Ottawa.
Claudia was recently recognized for her talent and community engagement by the Ottawa Arts Council, receiving the Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award. Nicole Milne, Executive Director, had these lovely words to say in the letter that accompanied the prize:
“It is important that the Ottawa Arts Council acts as a catalyst in our community to support all artists, but in this case, someone who is making a significant impact in the sector. Your work connects communities. And it is presented in a way that reminds us of the importance of the value of art in our everyday lives. It provokes discussion and contemplation, and contributes directly to our well-being. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. I have long admired your work and look forward to seeing where your next creative adventure will take you.”
Like many artists, Claudia is finding this pandemic very difficult, but her heart really goes out to the children: “So many murals have been installed without any celebration, it is so sad for the kids.” Claudia has been doing art workshops online, “But it is not the same,” she says, lamenting the loss of community and sense of connection that you get from creating art with others. With the extension of this latest stay-at-home order, she has had to start work alone on her next mural. The Wisdom Mural, inspired by Indigenous teachings from around the world, will be installed on an Ottawa Community Housing property on Bank Street. Claudia is very excited about this project and cannot wait to work with her neighbours again.
For more information about Claudia, the murals around Ottawa, and the Wisdom Mural, visit www.claudiasalguero.com. You can follow her on Facebook at Claudia Salguero Art, and on Instagram as @claudia_salguero.