Photograph by Bob Brink
The Real Heroes
by Melissa Francis
Town of Gander, Gander
100 Elizabeth Drive, Gander, NL A1V 1G7
The Real Heroes mural by Gander artist Melissa Francis of Studio 120 is located on the exterior wall of the town hall building. It pays tribute to essential workers: healthcare workers, firefighters, postal workers, truckers, and many more who have ensured the public that essential care, supplies and services are not interrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Francis said she “created this painting as a thank you to those people that put their own lives on hold, and sacrificed endlessly for us to continue our lives as normal as possible – the REAL Heroes.” The Town of Gander supported her idea by providing materials and a space for the work. Francis also partnered with artist Marshall Borland; together, they created a big "thank you card" mural for essential workers in the neighbouring town of Botwood.
Melissa Francis is a young indigenous woman from Gander Bay, Newfoundland Canada, a part of the Qalipu First Nations Mi’kmaq. Focusing on bright colors and bold designs, inspired by her indigenous (Mi’kmaq) heritage. Along with bringing recognition of her home in Newfoundland to people who have not been there, and those that have moved away by recreating memorable scenes from her childhood. Over the past couple years, she has expanded her work into the world of mural arts after learning from and working with Canadian muralist Charlie Johnston on Atlantic Canada’s Largest mural in Botwood, NL. Travelling to Vancouver this past fall for a laneway transformation project with Indigenous artist Lauren Brevner and James Harry in Downtown Vancouver was an unforgettable experience for her work. Getting the opportunity to attend the Global Mural Conference and meeting artist worldwide in 2018, has given her confidence and the inspiration to continue this career path. With having done work from coast to coast on the island such as; most recently, a 30ft long mural for the Town of Norris Arm, NL, 2 large mural installations in Corner Brook sponsored by the Qalipu First Nations, a total of 15 public art installations within the Town of Gander, participating in Botwood NL’s Street Art Festival with graffiti artist from St. Johns, as well as having orders for custom pieces that have been shipped various locations across Canada. Currently attending Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC online from Newfoundland, with hopes to pursue a Bachelor of Arts – currently in second semester. With the goal set out to share her work across the province of Newfoundland, Canada and the globe, she plans to continue to take her passion for mural arts into the large scale world in hopes to be recognized internationally for her indigenous and native home artwork.