September 22, 2020

By MATT HOWELL

Pencil crayons scribbling, scissors cutting with precision and glue piecing it all together – this is art in its purest form.

All of this was on display at the second annual Drawathon that took place on Oct. 18 at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. The free event was held from noon until midnight and offered a barrage of art supplies for participants to use, as well as musical performances in the evening.

The Drawathon was the brainchild of Marie LeBlanc Flanagan, whose mission is to encourage creative expression across Canada.

Flanagan is the executive director of Weird Canada, a website dedicated to promoting artistic expression in the community. She is also the founder of Wyrd Arts Initiative. She first saw an all-day art event when she was living in Edmonton. When she moved here two years ago, she decided to try the art-themed event in Kitchener. She smiled from ear-to-ear and spoke with complete admiration and love for everything art.

“Last year we had about 150 people come throughout the day of varying MHdrawathon1ages. Mainly the 18-32 demographic. I wanted to create a safe and accessible space for people to create,” Flanagan said.

Art galleries can sometimes seem elitist and unwelcoming, which Flanagan is trying to change.

“It’s really nice to take a gallery that’s open to it and say let’s let other people come in and make art. Anyone, even people who make art that you might not like, let’s make a space for that,” she said.

A partnership like this is only as strong as the belief by both parties that what they are doing is important and vital to the community. Fortunately Flanagan and Weird Canada found a like-minded entity known as the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery to partner up with.

Nicole Newfield, director of public programs for the gallery, was all smiles when discussing the gallery’s involvement with the Drawathon.

“It’s been an awesome day with lots of people coming through drawing and sketching. Some people have been here all day,” she said.

Newfield is in complete agreement with Flanagan that art should be as accessible as possible.

“This gives everyone a chance to be creative. It’s our second year and it’s been a really great collaboration. Art and music, an easy marriage,” she said.

Michael McCarville, who had been at the event for a few hours, looked intensely at the scene he was creating using a mixture of pencil crayons and shapes cut out of magazines.

“It’s my first time. I found out about it yesterday. I’m having fun,” he said smiling.

The success of this event showcases the need and want for artistic expression in our society.

“With the Internet, I’m seeing more and more bedroom and basement artists distributing their art. Distribution used to be a big issue, now it’s not,” Flanagan said.

“There are waves and waves of people seeing their peers doing things and think I can do that too,” she added.

Check out Weird Canada to learn more about their mission to bring arts to the masses at www.weirdcanada.com.kwag.com.

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