Mural at new central library a ‘return to cultural basics’

Over the past two months, Kai and Ricole Cabodyna, with the Light and Soul art collaborative, have been putting the final touches on a 52-panel mural, surrounding the construction site for Calgary’s New Central Library.

“The project is called Returning to Cultural Basics,  and its primary message regards, ‘traditional knowledge and traditional ways of living,'”said Kai Cabodyna.

“The mural features quotes and images that relate to the passing of knowledge, and the cultural elements that come with that, the people, the tools, and the, informational exchanges that you can have with the next generation,” said Ricole Cabodyna.

“The indigenous and the first settlers were forced to be closer with nature because of a lack of technology,” said Kai.

“[Because of] that kind of dynamic, humanity was a little more humble.

“Now we have imposed ourselves upon nature and tried to control it, which has dis-jointed us.”

Ricole said that Returning to Cultural Basics hopes to inspire the utilization of technology in new ways in order to be more in-tune with our, “natural rhythms.”

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), sent out a proposal for the project three years ago, and Ricole Cabodyna was one of the two artists selected.

Ricole, a student of interior architectural design, said it wasn’t until she began travelling and painting murals that her artistic career really took off.

Ricole said that her first mural was in Kathmandu, Nepal and that she noticed the project when she was working in an urban garden,  and decided to join in.

“It sparked something really awesome. I painted really fast, and turned out really great, so I just kept travelling and painting murals.”

From there on, Ricole travelled to Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, and back to Nepal, eventually leading her to Kai, and the Light and Soul group in Calgary.

Kai, having done projects in Calgary’s East Village before, helped Ricole create a budget for the project.

“So much has happened since then,” Ricole laughs.

“Gravity did its thing, love unfolds, (our son) Indiana was born, and then all of a sudden, it was a team project,” said Kai.

Kai Cabodyna gazes at a print of his significant other Ricole, and their newborn, Indiana, in Calgary on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. Originally Ricole's project, Kai stepped in to help finish the mural after their son was born. (Photo by Foster Modesette/The Press)
Kai Cabodyna gazes at a print of his significant other Ricole, and their newborn, Indiana, in Calgary on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. Originally Ricole’s project, Kai stepped in to help finish the mural after their son was born. (Photo by Foster Modesette/The Press)

Ricole’s solo project had quickly become a family affair.

“It was two months of full time painting,” said Kai.

“[It] probably would have been faster without a baby on site, but with Indiana part of the process, it opened up a really good dialogue with the families and people frequenting the space.”

Indiana Cabodyna, who clearly was an instrumental part in the mural’s creation, is even featured on one of the panels, breastfeeding from a flower, and embraced in her mother’s arms.

Originally the image did not contain a flower covering Ricole’s breasts. However, the CMLC deemed it necessary, because of the sensitive subject matter, and it’s proneness to graffiti.

“This isn’t pornography, this isn’t sexual,” said Ricole.

“This is the most natural thing.

“That’s what we want to normalize as artists, as cultural shifters.”

“This is a chance to co-create culture here, a shift in Calgary’s landscape that says, this is okay,” added Kai.

The New Central Library is set to finish construction in 2018, and until then Kai and Ricole’s mural will be brightening up the surrounding areas, and perspectives.

As for the Cabodynas, the family plans to move to the Kootenays and start a “regenerative farm and artist residency.”

The goal is to create a sanctuary within nature, where all sorts of artists can come and decompress, a place where the couple can let go of the cultural pressures and just create.

A portion of the mural titled, Returning to Cultural Basics, in Calgary on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. Kai and Ricole Cabodyna designed and created the mural surrounding the construction zone of the new Central Library. (Photo by Foster Modesette/The Press)
A portion of the mural titled, Returning to Cultural Basics, in Calgary on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. Kai and Ricole Cabodyna designed and created the mural surrounding the construction zone of the new Central Library. (Photo by Foster Modesette/The Press)
About Foster Modesette 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Foster Modesette is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.

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