Public consultation starts for downtown Vernon art murals

Vernon public art gallery

The Vernon Public Art Gallery (VPAG) is asking the public to explore and give feedback about ‘Behind the Mask’ as the gallery hosts a community consultation that includes viewing the art proposed to grace buildings throughout downtown Vernon.

‘Behind the Mask’ is a three-part public art project in which eight Vernon people living with mental health challenges, and two local supporting professionals, express who they are and how they want the community to view them through masks—the ones they made, wrote about creating, and later wore in photographs taken in settings of their choice in Vernon.

“Recognizing how big of an issue mental health has become because of COVID, we wanted to create a dialogue around mental health using the visual arts as our language, and create awareness in a positive, engaging way,” says Dauna Kennedy, executive director, Vernon Public Art Gallery. “We hope people will take in the exhibit and reflect on these characters, and also each person behind these masks.”

As the project approaches its third and final phase—the installation of murals featuring the participants and their masks, VPAG has been asked by the City of Vernon to give the public an opportunity to learn more about the project and give feedback. Since the Behind the Mask exhibit is now on display, Vernon residents have a unique chance to view the art before they become the murals at 10 proposed sites. As part of the education and consultation process, from June 21-July 5, after viewing the exhibit, guests are invited to step up to a tablet in the gallery and complete a survey.

“We’ve already had a tremendous response from our community and the social services community about why it’s important to shed light on mental health issues, and we’re seeing that aspeople visit the exhibit, and they really learn about the people behind the masks and the intention and very uplifting outcomes of this public art project, that it does give people a broader perspective,” says Kennedy, “but we have a short window to take this forward, bring it to life and have Vernon realize the many benefits to the economy, community and culture.”

To learn more about the project, the participants, funding and the public art process, visit https://www.vernonpublicartgallery.com/behind-the-mask