Monica Wickeler is a LGBTQ2S+/Luxembourg/Canadian artist with a passion for public art. She was originally trained in the craft of hand-painted outdoor advertising in the 90’s and has moved her practice towards community-based public art installations in Toronto and across Canada.
Monica has worked with Art Starts on two mural projects. She was brought on as a lead artist and helped youth artists tackle a large-scale mural project from start to finish. One of the murals lives at Albion Library and the other at Lawrence Heights Community Centre in Toronto.
Art Starts celebrated 30 years this year and as a way to commemorate our past and future, we’re spotlighting our top 30 supporters. From artists to community members, these features will look at their meaningful contributions to our organization and visions for the future.
What was your first experience with Art Starts?
The North York Harvest Food Bank mural project in 2021.
How did this shape your perception of art and its impact on community?
Mentoring youth has always been something I really enjoy. To see a group of young people find their collective voice through public art is really amazing. Art Starts gave me the opportunity to show how we can discover our authentic selves through mural making and share a message of resilience and the strength of community.
Tell me about your favourite memory, program or experience with Art Starts?
During the final launch of this project, we held a celebration to invite the local community to come out and share food, music and laughter. With a ribbon cutting ceremony, we launched this mural created by local youth to become part of the North York scene. Seeing the young artists, facilitators, partners and community members feel connected makes this work feel valuable.
Tell me about a time that art made a difference in your life?
A few years ago, I was visiting the site of a mural I had painted in the East York neighbourhood when an elderly woman approached me speaking no English. We were both looking at the art and when she realized that I was the artist, she leaned in and gave me the biggest hug and warm smile. Art can transcend language, it joins us all.
What is the most impactful project or piece you’ve worked on?
During a paint jam just off McCaul street north of the AGO, we had an awkwardly shaped piece of wall that was assigned to me to paint. Across the street is the Church where, many years ago, my parents were married. I decided to paint an image of a sleeping fox in a cupped pair of hands, the fox representing my Mama and the protective hands of my Papa. Years later I heard from a woman who walks past this mural everyday with her young daughter on their way to daycare. Each morning as they approach the mural the daughter says, “shhhhh, the fox is sleeping!”
How do you envision the future of Art Starts?
I envision the future of Art Starts as continuing to do such brilliant inspiring work with youth and the arts community. I can see many more future connections and wonderful experiences for everyone involved with Art Starts.
When Monica isn’t found on the boom-lift reaching the far top corner of a mural, she can be found in the studio planning her next creative placemaking adventure. Follow Monica’s work at @monicaonthemoon or at monicawickeler.com.