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From parking lot into a vibrant community hub: Artists are transforming a shipping container into unique space for Vanier neighbourhood

By Greggory Clark on August 17, 2020


Calling on community participants this month, “FROM PARKING LOT INTO A VIBRANT COMMUNITY HUB” is an engaging art project that promises to transform a shipping container into a unique community space for Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood.

Vanier residents have been invited to share their ideas and stories to become part of a mural design on the container. Plus, youth artists are invited to participate in a five-day Mural Art Camp. Spots are limited due to the requirement for safe physical distancing. Everyone is welcome to participate in the virtual public consultation here, and share your thoughts about the proposed mural design or add your own story to it by August 20, 2020.

Kseniya Tsoy of Ottawa’s atelier al.fergani, who is producing this project with the support of Arts Network Ottawa as part of Neighbourhood Arts Ottawa, a program funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ottawa Community Foundation, says the ultimate goal of her placemaking project is to highlight unique local stories.

“I am just blessed to work on this project during these strange times — through this work I got to meet so many wonderful people in the neighbourhood and hear a beautiful story a day. Each story was about sincere, kind, and caring people who live here, highlighting how friendly and uniquely diverse of a community Vanier is. The more I learn about this neighbourhood, the more I fall in love with it!” says Tsoy, who was born in Uzbekistan, lived and practised art in Seoul and Beijing, and now calls Ottawa home. Her studio’s name, al.fergani, means “from Fergana,” Tsoy’s hometown in Uzbekistan.

Supporting artist Renée Michaud is a photographer, videographer, and deejay (related: check out the Ottawa art collective uneety, a creative social enterprise based at Impact Hub), so maybe we can expect livestreams from the container?

The 20-by-8-foot container is scheduled to be delivered to the Vanier Community Service Centre parking lot before the end of the month, when design production and the mural artwork will begin in earnest.

The mural, to be unveiled in September, will engage the local community in an open-source creative process. Neighbours are being invited to share personal stories of their life in Vanier that the artists will use to construct a collective image of the neighbourhood. “In this way, we aspire to create a mural that is not the singular voice of a sole artist,” says Tsoy, “but rather the choir of a community, channelled through the artists’ creative point of view.”

From that point forward, the container at 270 Marier Avenue will become a venue for pop-up events and, when it’s safe again, will be able to host creative projects and gatherings that bring the residents and visitors of Vanier together.

Visit to learn more about the project and follow @al.fergani on Instagram for updates.

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We are collecting ideas and heartwarming stories about Vanier (Ottawa) – to be part of a collaborative mural that will turn a used shopping container into a creative community space and a new artistic benchmark in Vanier ❤️ Do you have a positive story, warm memory or favourite spot in Vanier? What images, you think, represent this neighbourhood? Share you love to be part of a unique community art project. Tag your friends with connection to the neighbourhood, comment your ideas under the post, or fill a little form – link in bio ❤️🙌🏼 This summer I am in (virtual) artist residency with Vanier Community Service Centre through Neighbourhood Arts Ottawa program by @artsnetottawa. Together with @uneetycoachingcreative we have been working on this fun initiative and I can’t wait for this to unfold 🎉 With much gratitude to @artsnetottawa @ontrillium #OttawaCommunityFoundation @zacvanierbia #VanierCommunityAssociation

A post shared by kseniya tsoy 🇺🇿/🇨🇦 (@al.fergani) on