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Community project connects local seniors through art

“For me it felt like something was missing from that project. Seniors are an important part of the community and they were unable to be included at the time so my goal was to have them engage with the community again.”

CANMORE – Kristy Wolfe believes art is for everyone.

She knew exactly which neighbourhood she wanted to build up as soon as she learned about the Town of Canmore’s Building Neighbourhoods Builds Community Project – seniors.

“My idea was to tell seniors’ stories with photography,” said Wolfe.

During the initial lockdown of the pandemic, Wolfe was part of a small group of photographers in the Bow Valley who participated in the socially distanced porch portraits of families.

After meeting more than 90 families in Canmore through the project, she felt seniors' stories were not being told.

“For me, it felt like something was missing from that project," Wolfe said. "Seniors are an important part of the community and they were unable to be included at the time, so my goal was to have them engage with the community again.”

The project, Picture This: Stories of Lives Well Lived features the stories of eight seniors told through their own photography. It is one of eight art projects commissioned this year as part of the municipality's Building Neighbourhoods Builds Community Project.

The contributing artists include Rick and Lydia, Maryann, Wendy, Jette, Sandy, Marilyn, Bill and Marion, and Percy.

Their work shares personal stories about their walkers, hiking in the valley, prayer shawls, and the connections they share with each other.

The participants took six weeks to develop and build their projects.

As a photographer, Wolfe’s role during the project was to be a “guide on the side.”

“I was there to teach and talk about photography," she said. "It was kind of like an open book.”

Chris Bartolomie, supervisor of arts and events for the Town of Canmore, said the Building Neighbourhoods Builds Community Project is about breaking down barriers in neighbourhoods and making connections with others.

For Wolfe, the most rewarding part of the six-week project was the connections she made. 

“Building those connections was the whole idea of this project and it was great to see collaboration between the participants," she said. "Especially now there are not many opportunities to make new friends and to see that happen during this time was very special.”

For some of the seniors, the project helped to give them a purpose to work towards.

Originally the artwork was to be an outdoor exhibit that would be displayed in the Stonewaters shop window. Instead, the artwork will be on display inside Stonewaters until Sunday (Nov. 29), during store hours.

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Evan Buhler

About the Author: Evan Buhler

Evan Buhler is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter who joined the Outlook in 2019. A native of Calgary, he previously worked in Salmon Arm, B.C.
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