June 27, 2022


The residents of Waterloo have made self-portraits as a birthday present to Canada for its 150th year.

The We are Waterloo Portrait Project was an initiative of the City of Waterloo’s art and culture team to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year.

The project conducted workshops which began last year in January and were held throughout 2016 across the city on various days. The public was encouraged to participate and draw a self-portrait.

“Throughout 2016 we hosted over 20 separate workshops open to the public,” said Katie Wilde, culture program co-ordinator at the City of Waterloo.

These workshops were conducted by local artists.

“Some of the artists have sort of traditional type of approaches to their work,” said Karen VandenBrink, manager of the City of Waterloo Museum and Archival Collections’ community programming and outreach services.

Other workshops were led by artists who specialized in cartooning or abstract art.

“So, you get very different types of product portraits coming out of the workshop held by the artist,” said VandenBrink.

Participants didn’t have any experience in painting or drawing. They just wanted to come and do a self-portrait. Paper, paint tubes, paint brushes and crayons were provided, she said.

Young children right up to seniors participated.

“Families came too,” said VandenBrink.

The finished portraits were gathered at the end of each workshop and digitized.

“The (portraits) were scanned and then we had all of the electronic product files to put together and the finished product is here for the exhibition at the museum,” said VandenBrink.

Over 500 portraits were done by residents of Waterloo, who live, work and play in the community.

“That was the main criteria (to participate), you have to be in Waterloo, to live in Waterloo to submit a portrait.”

The portraits will be on display until June 9. One of the activities the museum has right now for families is that they can come in and make a self-portrait and take it home, she said.

For more information on the project and workshops conducted by local artists, visit www.waterloo.ca. To view the display of the portraits made by Waterloo residents, visit the City of Waterloo Museum located near the food court in Conestoga Mall.

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