One year ago, in the summer of 2021, we met Talysha Bujold-Abu. Through friends of ERI, we reached out to Talysha to see if she was interested in collaborating with us on some drawings for the ERI Handbook, which was in the beginning stages of development. Talysha has contributed a beautiful, colourful, fun, inspiring and useful set of illustrations that the ERI has integrated into its identity. We are so happy to have become friends with Talysha and are thrilled to introduce our cycling community to her through our 6th installment of BLM Sessions.
(This is Talysha...)
My Family is composed of many parts forming a collective that spans Ghana, so-called Canada...and farther still; much of these histories are unknown to me; I embody a rich history of food, languages, and culture - much of the same structures that I cultivate and appreciate in my diversity are also elements that have been lost. It is in this loss that I find myself creating equity and time for reflection and connection.
At the intersection of art and identity (or how these categories themselves evolve into critical subsidiaries of cultural self-engagement), my illustrations (and other projects) are inherently tied to my identity. However, identity (what is uncovered, grieved, adored) grows its roots in states of flux: identity, at times intangible, are not fixed, they (we, I) shift and expand (alike to the art) as we fall deeper into ourselves.
What was your inspiration for the drawings you completed for the ERI Handbook?
The Everyone Rides Initiative illustrations are a colourful and blobbish compendium of bike safety, mechanics, paths, and familiar neighbourhood faces; a step-by-step (or pedal-by-pedal) booklet of accessible tips, tricks, and those everyday cycling needs.
When developing the drawings, I parked myself on a park bench and waited…enjoying the whiz of bikers commuting past, the ringing of their bells as they sped through seagulls, and the bob of their lights as the sun went low. In the preliminary sketches I focused on movement, and the push of a pedal towards pavement - as the illustrations grew they became a mixture of static poses, capturing snapshots of engagement. The characters themselves are pieces of the community we share, and an investment in the multiplicity of our shared voices. Creatively, I approached this work with fun and curiosity, as someone who bikes often, this process became an intimate reflection of my everyday commute.
What is your favorite art project?
TINY ART VENDING MACHINE: a project designed to bring art into the community in accessible ways, while supporting and promoting the work of artists and introducing them to new audiences. The Tiny Art Vending Machine has a touch of nostalgia mixed with surprise, as you don’t know precisely what you’ll get. It is a fun and inviting way to discover the art and a new artist!
100% of the proceeds generated from the project will cycle back into the fund to continue to commission artists. With the support of the City of Windsor’s Arts Culture & Heritage Fund, curator Kristina Bradt received a grant to purchase the vending machine and commission five (5) artists for the initial project launch in June 2022 at the Windsor-Essex Ottawa Street Market; each spin in the machine costs $4 (two cutie toonies) and in return, you’ll receive a capsule containing a work of art and who the artist is…check it out!
What inspires you?
Crossword puzzles, lemon seeds, chilly melancholic weather and books…
PIRANESI by Susanna Clarke: expansive and critical, this text invites fear and maintains uncertainty throughout, giving rise to suspicion, anxiety, and oddly…comfort. I slowly walked monolithic halls listening for the dense waves of distant shores, an enchanting narrative that absorbs time, welcoming the reader into a surrealist, empty, landscape. I was lost, gladly so.
BLACK UNICORN by Audre Lorde: a collection of poetry that is... ancient magic, revenge, and tenderness. If you’ve questioned stars and soil both, the prose invites celestial dust under your fingernails and between your teeth.
SWIMMING STUDIES by Leanne Shapton: throughout, I held my breath, I timed the expansion of my chest with each cupped-hand-pull of this autobiographical lane swim. Along with illusory watercolours of familiar and far-away pools, archival documentation of secondhand swimsuits, and the bleary-eyed recounting of an early morning swim practice - I felt the rush and euphoria of being underwater, somehow safe, and racing fast.
A SAFE GIRL TO LOVE by Casey Plett: in a series of short stories we become the companion to loss, togetherness, and grief - prosaic and purposeful, Plett leads with an interrogative approach to the mundanity of small town living and the complexity of defining home for young trans women.
Thank you Talysha, for sharing your creative process, your art and your perspective with our community. Check out Talysha’s drawings for the ERI throughout the ERI website, within the digital version of the ERI Handbook and let us know if you would like a printed version of the handbook. A list of locations to pick up these handy new books will be launched later this month.