Meet one of the creative minds taking part in New West's Shine Bright
The annual event runs from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31, 2023
The 'wizards' part is appropriate: Lewis is an artist, but she's also a smile-maker, responsible for a number of the magical, whimsical sculptures you might have seen during Shine Bright New West. Now into its third year, the multi-week event began as a way to encourage New Westies to light up the city with bright and festive holiday lights decorating their homes and storefronts.
From penguins to llamas and even snow monsters—this year some of her work will look at the theme of flight—Lewis says it's an incredible opportunity to inspire people in a positive way.
"It just warms my heart to hear that people find such connection with it," Lewis tells New West Anchor.
The Shine Bright campaign came at a time when social gatherings of any kind were not allowed, unless you were with the people living in your home, or with those in your core bubble.
This is Lewis's second year taking part in Shine Bright New West. Her sculptures are created mostly with jute twine and branches. She says she pivoted from some of her previous mediums, some of which she referred to as, 'big obnoxious light-up art.'
"I started making [the stick and twine] sculptures during COVID, and they got a lot of attention from people because people were bored," Lewis tells New West Anchor, who says she was eventually approached by the city, which asked if she would be willing to do some of these sculptures in their parks. "I happened to mention that I sometimes mix sculptures with lights inside [with] private commissions."
When the idea of Shine Bright came about, the city asked if Lewis would be able to build something with lights inside.
"I said, 'Yes. Please. Can I?!' "
What makes the sculptures even more unique is their shelf-life: whereas Lewis's previous mediums were long lasting, the twine and branches will eventually fall apart and decompose.
"There are a couple from last year that are kind of starting to slump. The [New West] parks people have taken them and adopted them [to maintain them]," she says, adding that she's had a lot of time to reflect on themes like permanence. "What happens to them after they live their life? They just become junk. So, I started contemplating that in my impact on the world. And I thought, 'what if art is whatever I can find?' In nature, that's on the ground."
While it's been incredible to know that she's part of a multi-award-winning initiative—the city revealed on Monday Shine Bright received its third award, the Cultural Event Award from the Creative City Network of Canada—Lewis says the emotions and the feedback from the people who interact with the sculptures are priceless.
"I love messing with scale. Something that's so tiny and cute and just blowing that up [with these sculptures] is just huge to me. It's so much fun. And I love that as an adult. We don't often get the opportunity to feel like a kid again," explains Lewis, who says one of her favourite parts of the experience is hearing from all the people who will watch her Facebook and Instagram pages to know where her art can be found.
As for where you'll be able to catch her work: locations this year include Tipperary Park, Moody Park, and the sportsplex near Queen's Park—to name a few. She still has some work up outside Queensborough Community Centre, including a dragon she made for another event.
To learn more about all the events associated with Shine Bright, check out the city's schedule of related events.