Jun 2021

Nextfest Mural Project: An Interview With Haylee Fortin

Visual   /  

The Nextfest 2021 Mural project is underway with Haylee Fortin (she/her) at the helm.

We are excited to have Haylee Fortin painting this year’s bold new mural on the Backstage Theatre! Haylee is a painter, new media artist, and printmaker that pursues art as a means of community engagement. She will be painting the mural throughout the festival, so stroll by the Backstage to see her progress!*

*Please keep a respectful distance from the artist while she is working.

This mural is located at The Backstage Theatre (10330 84 Ave NW)

Interview With The Artist

We chatted with Haylee about her process and inspirations while creating this brand-new mural.

What was your inspiration for this mural design?

I was really taken by the mural’s location, the brick wall around the garage door, and the idea of an empty stage.

The garage door opens and closes by rolling up or down, it’s almost like a curtain going up before a play.

Please give us a brief overview of the piece. What are you hoping to express with your work? 

Early in the sketching process, we talked a bit about the history of the theatre and from that discussion I drew some key moods and motifs. I spent a lot of time as a teen going to see plays by volunteering with theatres and I’ve been in love with set design ever since.

There’s this wonderful moment before a play starts when the stage is mostly empty and you build your own narrative between the props and set. It was important that the shapes and objects remain simple so that each viewer could make their own associations between them while also allowing space to play with interior and exterior space.

Are you outside looking in? Or are you inside looking out? Theatre often flirts with the fourth wall and I wanted to bring that into the visual language of the mural.

People are really in love with the colour palette you chose. How did you go about choosing those specific colours for the mural?

The entrance to the theatre is behind the Old Strathcona Farmers Market and has a brick exterior that inspired my colour palette.

I’m a big fan of using complementary colour theory when you want two colours to pop, so I started with a blue that I thought would sing with the orange in the brick and went from there!

Were there any other ideas or concepts you had for the mural that didn’t make the cut? If so, what were those.

Definitely! I usually give clients two directions to choose from to get the ball rolling.

The second concept for the mural was a drawing of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian as a goose. The pose has a lot of drama, pain, and eroticism which felt like a fun direction for a theatre. 

Is there anything else about this project or your process that you would like to mention?

I think I would just like to say thank you to everyone at the Nextfest Arts Company and the Edmonton Fringe for their support. I learned a lot this week, including how to paint gradients in scorching 30-degree heat.

After a year of mostly working alone at home, it was so refreshing to be able to share my work and process with other people. The excitement this mural generated is going to be much-needed fuel for my next project.

Where can people find your work/support you?

You can find my illustration and painting work on Instagram at @hail.meister.

If you would like to see more of my work in person, I have a fun print and installation show coming up with SNAP Gallery running from June 12th to July 17th, 2021.


This project is made possible with funding from the Old Strathcona Business Association and Capital City Clean-Up.


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