The mural art project at 4325 Harvester Road in Burlington is the first such project for Lamenza Corporation. We have been collaborating with Mural Routes, a Toronto-based not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to creating and promoting public art to find the right artist to create this mural. The theme of this placemaking initiative is imagining and building an equal, diverse and inclusive city. Our panel of community jury members vetted applications and deliberated on finalists. We are pleased to announce Poonam Sharma as the lead artist for the mural art project on Harvester Road. We reached out to Poonam to tell us a bit about herself and what motivates and inspires her in her art form.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m born and raised in Jaipur, Rajasthan, where I learnt various folk and tribal art forms and explored contemporary styles. In my paintings and murals, I try to blend various art forms to create a unique expression. I completed my Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Malviya National Institute of technology (MNIT), Jaipur. My education played a very prominent role in getting in-depth knowledge about the art and culture of India.
In 2013, I moved to Toronto, Canada with my husband and child. The initial years in Canada were very challenging as we didn’t know anybody. For the first time in my life I saw harsh winter weather which was comprised of piles of snow. Rajasthan is a desert and moving to Canada was like moving to a different world. The people of Canada are very friendly and welcoming to new immigrants. Soon I started attending a few art workshops and got a very warm response from everyone. I got to know about various mural painting-related grants that the government of Canada provides to newcomer artists. I remember that during my initial years when my kid was only 1 year old, we had a one-bedroom condo so I use to sit in the closet to paint overnight so I wouldn’t wake up my baby.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I don’t remember ever deciding because it is what I am! I LOVE art! Not just the visual art but each and every form of art. My mom told me that since I was 2, I use to love colours. My dad used to take me for various art competitions in my school days. For a very long time, I don’t remember buying water colours as I used to get them as prizes. My family have always been my biggest support.
What is the advantage of mural art? What does community engagement mean to you?
Producing a mural is quite different from creating a painting. A painting belongs to the artist, however, a mural belongs to that community which is so fair, as they see that wall everyday. A mural has the art style of the artist, but it says what the community represents. Most of my mural projects have always been a result of community consultation and then creating an art design that showcases those thoughts from the people.
After moving to Canada, I got to know about mural art which is very popular in Toronto. Here, I did Certification in Mural Art Career Development Program by Mural Routes. This program really helped me polish my artistic skills and learn the techniques to produce big murals.
"A painting belongs to the artist,
however a mural belongs to that community..."
What attracted you to this medium of artistic expression?
The most beautiful part of Indian art and culture is the vibrance of colours. It’s the geometrical patterns and colour harmony that really gives a sense of happiness and joy. Having evolved from so many years and generations, the art forms really connect with anyone and everyone very quickly. The first award that I won when I came to Canada was a T-shirt design where I created Warli tribal art in the design and it was really appreciated a lot. One of the first murals that I painted along with six other female artists was a combination of eight different folk art styles from India. It got a lot of attention and was published in many city newspapers.
What is your support system like? What inspires your art?
I believe that if you do good then good comes back to you. Therefore, whenever I have tried my best to do something, I’ve always found great people who went a way and beyond to help me. They trusted me and believed in me. A strong support system develops when you are ready to help others, when you are happy to see others progress in their work and life. I always took every opportunity as a learning experience rather than losing or winning and this has really help me so I never got disappointed.
RangRiva is the name that I gave to my art practice which involves consultation and connection with the community. The name is a combination of two words: ‘rang’ which means colours and ‘riva’ is a shortened name for my child, Rivaansh. They both are my lifelines and that truly represents my love and passion.
"A strong support system develops when you are ready to help others,
when you are happy to see others progress in their work and life."
What is your favourite song or band?
I'm a huge fan of Indian folk music and dance especially Rajasthani (from the state of Rajasthan, India).
What is the craziest/most daring thing you’ve ever done?
I'm more of a cautious person and not very adventurous, yet during one of our mural paintings for Cabbagetown [a neighbourhood in Toronto], I remember climbing on a 20-foot scaffolding and working through two nights to draw our outline for our mural design. I will always cherish those days.
What talents do you possess that not a lot of people know?
I love to sing.
If you could make a difference in the world, what would you be known for?
Education and safety for girls.
How would your friends describe you?
Trustworthy, too punctual and a friend for life.
What is the first thing people notice about you?
My smile (now we have to wear a mask).
What is one cause are you passionate about?
The right to education for girls and all.
If you could create a fortune cookie to give yourself when you were 16, what would it say?
Your creativity will take you to wonderful places.
What would you name your next pet?
What super power do you have?
What do you do fuel you throughout the day?
Love to go for long walks in the trails of my beautiful neighbourhood.
What is your nickname?
What do you like as toppings on your ice cream?