Draw-a-thon promotes ‘art for all’ mentality

Drawing is not just for artists. That was the takeaway message of the draw-a-thon hosted by alternative art organization Weird Canada, at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG).

This is the second year for the event, which is free and open to all ages. Weird Canada and KWAG provided free materials to anyone interested in exercising their artistic muscles during the 12-hour event. Kids drew on the concrete floor in front of paintings and photographs that were part of KWAG’s current exhibition. An entire wall was covered in paper for people to draw individually or collaborate on.

“The draw-a-thon is an opportunity for people to make art. We set it up in a way that anyone can come — it’s very accessible,” said Marie LeBlanc Flanagan, the executive director of Weird Canada.

“In our culture, we sometimes approach art by thinking it’s something that only specialists can do, I think it’s really important to subvert that and challenge and say that ‘no, not only can everyone make art, but everyone should make art,’” LeBlanc Flanagan said.

​Aaron Levin, founder and creative director of Weird Canada said the ages of participants ranged throughout the day, with the event being very family oriented during the day. Parents brought their kids, for whom, Levin pointed out, drawing is an everyday activity.

Kids draw in preschool and kindergarten and then it all of the sudden stops and is replaced by multiplication tables, Levin said.

“It’s weird. Why do we stop that?” Levin said.

LeBlanc Flanagan and Levin both agreed an initiative of Weird Canada is to make art and music more accessible to people.

​Weird Canada was started as a music blog in 2009 with a few writers celebrating physically released Canadian music that wasn’t getting coverage on other platforms, said LeBlanc Flanagan.

​The site eventually won a CBC Best Music Website in Canada award, after which LeBlanc Flanagan took the project to the next level. They’ve since accumulated 400 volunteers across Canada ranging from blog writers to translators (the organization is bilingual)

​LeBlanc Flanagan and Levin relocated Weird Canada to KW two years ago and are working to build partnerships in the community. KWAG was one of the first groups to reach out to them for collaboration when they first moved to the region.

​“KW has been totally welcoming and exciting and has made me feel enthusiastic about doing events like this,” LeBlanc Flanagan said.

​Weird Canada will have a showcase at Kitchener’s NightShift Nov 1.

​Check out www.uwimprint.ca for video coverage of the draw-a-thon.