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Controversial Calgary mural painted over following public outcry

A suspected anti-mask mural at Springboard Performance’s containR Art Park was painted over, after public scrutiny on social media.

The artist of the controversial mural, Elena Bushan, was inspired by researching the effects of COVID-19 on adolescents’ mental health.

“I saw that suicide attempts went up three times amongst school-aged children,” she said, referring to an article published by CBC.

Bushan’s goal was to “speak up for our children” and share her opinion on children wearing masks – with her own personal experience in mind.

“When I was 10, I had a war in my country. It traumatized me and pretty much affected my whole life. So I know how it feels to grow in fear,” said Bushan.

“When events occur in the adult world, kids are the ones who get hurt the most and they carry the trauma through[out] their whole life. So I’m saying that things are not getting good for our kids.”

Public scrutiny

Despite the public labelling her mural as being anti-mask, Bushan said, “it’s not anti-mask, I’m not [an] anti-masker. I don’t think kids need to wear them.”

“I think we’re suffocating kids, both mentally and physically, they can’t normally live in those masks,” said Bushan.

The mask, in the now covered-up mural, read “Let Us Breathe”. KIRSTEN PHILLIPS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Bushan has received “horrible” messages on social media – including accusations that she doesn’t care about people dying.

“I do care about everyone, but I think we have to make a choice, protect kids who’s lives just started,” she said.

Bushan offered to paint a flower in place of the mask. She hoped to prevent the mural from being completely covered.

However, Springboard Performance painted over the mural early Tuesday evening.

Springboard’s response

In light of the public backlash, particularly on Twitter, Springboard Performance released this official statement:

Busham received positive comments about her mural from those “just can’t speak because they will get attacked right away.” KIRSTEN PHILLIPS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

“While containR supports creative expression we do not condone expression at the expense of the safety of our community. The proposal for the mural recently painted at containR is not in line with what was painted and, as such, is being removed.

We support and adhere to government and AHS guidelines and the efforts of our community, including healthcare workers and medical professionals, to keep us safe. We put the health and safety of the people in our city and province first and foremost.

We will always advocate for free expression but dangerous art rooted in misguided opinion does not align with Springboard’s vision for containR.”

In response, Bushan said, “I don’t want conflict with them… I was trying to raise awareness and stand up for kids.”