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ARTiculate: a creative writing series featuring local artists: WALDO

Illustration of Waldo by Eric Cator Story by Michelle Arnett


Part 1: Waldo’s Roots

I write to you today, a work of art, having come from mere humble beginnings—I can hardly believe it myself. An incredible story of strife, where I, Waldo, emerge a canvas, mural, and dare I say, a muse?

Ahhh, such a beautiful word, “muse,” derived from the Greek “mousa”—language excites me more and more each day; and how easily I’ve mastered such a complex system. The many incredible obstacles I’ve overcome are the reason why I am able to stand so proudly, and do not shy away from the noble designation that is “muse,” despite all of its aesthetic responsibilities, no less inspirational or artistically embodied than a child of Zeus.

Sit down and relax, dear reader. Pour yourself a cup of tea, as I relay to you the amazing story of my transformation from organic material, as inconsequential as dirt, to the heavenly body that appears before you today--

I came to be in this world through some form of ignoble birth--whether it sprang from a negative karmic source of a past life, punished for the wrongdoings of my forebears or otherwise, remains unclear. What I do know for certain is that I entered this world a coarse, scaly growth, rooted in soil, bound to the waste of my fallen ancestors.

While those around me celebrated this simple existence, I yearned for something greater. I looked on in awe at the complex machinery that tore my kin from the earth, and longed for my turn to be uprooted, and experience the freedom akin to that undoubtedly felt by the genius consciousness behind those machines of liberation. And finally, my time arrived…

Part 2: Spruced Up

I implore you to consider the aphorism “there can exist no beauty without pain,” as I detail the next leg of my journey, to avoid any feelings of pity that could distract from my unimaginable triumph yet to come.

I eventually arrived at a workshop where I was run through a saw, stripped and sanded, and drilled with nails. All the while I was poked and prodded, I knew that I was simply facing the trials, and amassing the great degree of character that those destined for greatness face when travelling their path, encountering seemingly insurmountable struggle.

In the capable hands of Lori Joseph and her colleagues at the London Community Woodshop, I was able to shed my coarse skin and chains of roots, and was made mobile, capable of confidently traversing the cobblestone environment of Dundas Place, where I would next find myself.

Part 3: Growing in Community

Just as every protagonist is blessed with many transient guides and mentors along their journey, I too, was forced to bid adieu to my creators, eternally grateful though I am.

I ventured on to meet Shane and Kim, the humble masters who truly animated my existence; brought the gift of colour to my cheeks and music to my soul. We would venture out onto the street for hours at a time, with the brisk fall winds persistently nipping at us, and testing our dedication. But I would gaze into their warm and determined, yet joyful, faces as they covered me with intentional, vibrant strokes of their brushes; acknowledging that I had never felt so alive before. This feeling, I could tell, was growing inside of them too.

Just then, two inquisitive strangers emerged, asking for information about me; “This is the first mural I have ever painted!” exclaimed Kim, “I didn’t think I could do it, but I did and I’m actually really happy with how it turned out.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…her first mural?! Knock on me, dear reader… I had flourished in the hands of a prodigy. As she went on to describe me as a “break through,” I swear I felt a heart forming deep in the density of my grain.

I wanted to make sure to remember this feeling, so looked around to note the exact time of day, shade of the sky, smell in the air, and then noticed a crowd forming--curious onlookers of varying sizes, were admiring me. And there were three others who looked just like me in form, but with their own uniquely alluring designs.

Shane and Kim were glowing as people passed by and inquired about their work, “it’s taken us out of our shell, out of our studio, right out into the public realm, where we’ve been able to work close to, and learn from, different artists while connecting with new audiences,” I heard Shane remark.

And just like him, I realized that I had begun to blossom in new soil--the rich concrete soil of Dundas Place, yet was no longer constrained, among my newfound and admiring public audience.


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