Coronavirus inspires

Artist Michel Dumont looks at his public art installation at the Royal Edward Arms.

Thunder Bay artist Michel Dumont’s has created a COVID-19-inspired piece of art that is available for all to see.

During the later part of March, Dumont heard through social media about a national contest focused on how artists were reacting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Insiders Project Contest was offered by Steps Initiative, an art collective from Toronto who are known for helping create large murals in Toronto.

The contest was open to artist from across the country and received 127 submissions. Dumont’s concept was one of eight selected.

A part of the condition of the contest was to repurpose items that artists had around their homes. Dumont had what he called ‘an infinity room’ in his home that was created out of large mirrors purchased from a sale from the former Eaton’s building.

During the early stages of the pandemic, Dumont used a mirrored disco ball to create a corona-like sculpture.

“They liked the idea that I took something terrifying and I turned it into, like, love light,” said Dumont of the early mock-up he made in his home using lights, mirrors and the mirror ball.

Dumont wanted to make the artwork accessible to the general public and, through a friend, an arrangement was made to host the exhibit in the window of the Royal Edward Arms building on May Street.

Through support from Steps Initiative, Dumont hired a carpenter to help create the installation piece.

Dumont also said that it is perfect time for the installation — during Pride month. As a gay man, he had to learn to deal with the fear of illness from HIV/AIDS at an early age. He recognized similarities of circumstances around those illnesses and what’s unfolded during the COVID-19 crisis.

“When the pandemic happened, I knew how to deal with fear and I kept my hands busy and I kept working at home like nothing really stopped,” explained Dumont who also has a disability.

He said the project was difficult to co-ordinate through the pandemic. He hopes that other artists and building owners do a similar collaboration. Dumont also points to the success that Definitely Superior has had with their annual Urban Infill project that turns empty businesses into exhibition spaces that have help rejuvenate the downtown Port Arthur core.

People are encouraged to visit the exhibition. Dumont said it is best viewed in the evening, but can be seen anytime through the window of the Royal Edward Arms at 114 South May St.

More of Dumont’s art can be seen via his Instagram page at madbear67@instagram.

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