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Students Who Are New to Canada Gift Mural to Their School

What began as a collaborative art project for two students with shared talents and heritage, has become a beautiful legacy gift filled with much to discover for the École Alpha Secondary community.

Over a year and a half, Regina Karpova and Ekaterina Polikanova created a large (3 by 6 metres or 10 by 20 feet) mural with spectacular detail. Working into the evening hours and over the summer they were able to complete the stunning wall in time for the 2020-21 school year.

While they didn’t meet until coming to Alpha, both Regina and Ekaterina came to Burnaby from Russia two years ago – Omsk (Siberia) and Moscow respectively. Both also decided to take Drawing and Painting at their new high school. It became apparent early on to their art teacher, Ms Clark, that both girls were already extremely talented.

The girls were so strong in their drawing and painting skills that I needed to give them a challenge to make the class interesting for them. So I suggested a mural project, and that they draw up an idea that could be presented to administration.”

Administrators, the students and their teacher agreed that the perfect place for the mural would be the hallway leading to the classroom for the Access Program, which is one of the places where students with diverse abilities come together.

Regina and Ekaterina – now in Grade 12 – brainstormed ideas for the project with the Access students in mind. And because the location was in a narrow hallway, as they planned their project, they had to take into account that the viewer can’t step back to get a distant vantage point of the mural. To accommodate that most people would be looking closely at the work, they decided to take a detailed approach.

Regina explains the thinking behind the ethereal feel of the piece:

We wanted to create something magical, so someone could create a picture in their head, like a story.”

Ekaterina is pleased with what they were able to accomplish in the location for this special and giving group of people at Alpha:

We’re glad that we got this place. We’re glad that we had the opportunity to use our skills to give something to people.”

Ms Clark shared that some people in the school have questioned the location of the mural, citing its beauty and wondering why it wasn’t given a more prominent location where you could better see it from a distance, and the larger school community could enjoy it on a regular basis.

It is honouring the Access education assistants, teachers and of course the students. That their space was honoured with this beauty, I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

The artists have been overjoyed with the response from the Access Program and the broader school community, many of whom discover the mural by accident or seek it out at the recommendation of others. Ms Clark says that the girls have inspired other students beyond the work, itself, with what can be done with talent, hard work and perseverance.

For both Ekaterina and Regina, Alpha was their first experience of Canada and they say they couldn’t be happier to be leaving both a literal mark on the building and a legacy gift for their adopted community.

Posted October 2020