Maternal love and CMYK portraits: Concordia students participate in Montreal's MURAL Festival

Lana Cohen and Bosny take diverse approaches to their contributions to the international urban art movement gathering
June 13, 2019
Lana Cohen: “Mother Love was really inspired by my mother and the strength she gave to me and my siblings, and all of the love she gave us since we were born.”

Two Concordia students with very different backgrounds and artistic styles are among the participants in the 2019 MURAL Festival.

The 11-day festival invites artists, often in collaboration with local galleries and institutions, to paint wall murals or contribute installations on and around Montreal’s St. Laurent Boulevard.

‘I’m in between two worlds’

Lana Cohen, a third-year student in Concordia’s Department of Biology, was selected by the Museum of Jewish Montreal to be its second muralist.

Her piece, Mother's Love, is inspired by the artist's own relationship with her mother.

“The Museum of Jewish Montreal had one space for a mural, with the theme being anything around women, so the one I did shows how a woman, a mother, can show love to her children,” says Cohen, who also goes by the moniker Miss Lanouch.

“It was really inspired by my mother and the strength she gave to me and my siblings, and all of the love she gave us since we were born.”

Cohen says getting to paint Mother’s Love is particularly special, as the piece marks her first time participating in the festival as well as her first mural.

“It’s really interesting to see my painting on a big wall like this. I’m really proud of my mural,” she says.

“I always wanted to be part of the MURAL Festival and to paint a mural. I went every year to MURAL Festival and being able to be one of the artists this year is an honour.”

In the mural, Cohen plays with string as a metaphor. The mother’s heart is seen as being connected to a string that’s wrapped around her daughter, who she’s holding close.

“The strings on my drawing always link people so you can see the relationship between them,” she says.

Cohen primarily works with paints and digital art and also designs clothes under the brand Denina. That’s an unusual sideline for a biology student.

“I’m in between two worlds,” she says.

Cohen, who is of Beninese and Jewish Franco-Algerian descent, will also have her completed mural featured in the Museum of Jewish Montreal’s 2018-19 exhibition series Movement & Migrations, which “places importance on sharing stories different than our own, while encouraging recognition of ourselves in the stories of others.”

Mother’s Love is located on St. Dominique St. and Duluth Ave. in Montreal’s historic Jewish quarter in Plateau-Montréal.

Cohen is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the festival. “It’s really nice to see artists that are from Montreal doing murals,” she says.

“I think that murals are one of the best way to decorate the city because they’re big pieces of art that have staying power.”

Bosny: “It’s bringing in some academic practice with my graffiti background.” Bosny: “It’s bringing in some academic practice with my graffiti background.”

‘I have an interest in how imagery affects our lives’

Among MURAL Festival’s slate of artists is Bosny, who graduated this spring from Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts. He is exhibiting his work at a festival-affiliated exhibition at WIP, a gallery on St. Laurent Blvd., and producing an off-festival mural.

“I’m kind of scrambling between the two things,” he jokes.

While Bosny’s background is in graffiti and murals, he says he doesn’t like to confine himself to just those mediums. His exhibition piece instead plays with stereoscopy, an artist technique for giving an image an illusion of depth.

Gallery visitors will see two side-by-side images of the same portrait of a man taken from different angles that, when they cross their eyes, will create one 3D image.

“I tried some more elaborate images, but the more recognizable it was the easier it was to have the illusion work,” he says. “If the person is trying to get the overlap to work and trying to decipher what the image is, it’s less clear.”

Bosny recently rediscovered stereoscopes.

“I went on a binge of old image technologies and optical illusion, alternative ways of seeing images that are no longer used, and seeing if there are ways of bringing some of them back with contemporary technologies,” he explains.

“I have an interest in how imagery affects our lives and how the techniques and technologies behind them play into our day-to-day, because we’re so used to screens and printed matter now it’s hard to imagine any other way of looking at images, so I’m interested in challenging that.”

Bosny’s mural, which is located on a building that is being renovated in Montreal’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, will use a CMYK screen-printing style, which Bosny says is “not at all a conventional technique for outdoor work.”

Bosny will paint four layers of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to build a series of portraits. Layering the colours over each other will help create new ones — with cyan and yellow creating green, for example — and the amount of each dictating how strong the resulting colours show up.

“I adopted a printing technique for a mural process,” he says. “It’s bringing in some academic practice with my graffiti background.”

See Lana Cohen and Bosny at work during MURAL Festival until June 16, and come back after to check out the completed pieces.

Visit Lana Cohen/Miss Lanouch’s mural Mother’s Love and more at the Denina pop-up party at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, 4040 St. Laurent Blvd., from 6 to 10 p.m. on June 13.


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