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BUMP Festival 2022

How a Mural Festival is Transforming Calgary’s Concrete Jungle

WORDS BY AUGUSTA MONET | NEW YORK CITY | VISUAL ARTS

APR 10, 2023 | ISSUE 5

Mural by Wenting Li - Photo by Asim Overstands
Mural by Curtia Wright - Photo by Tyrell Bonnick.jpg
Mural by Alex Kwong - Photo by Jevan Bailey.jpg

The Beltline Urban Murals Project – better known as the BUMP Festival – is steadily rising as one of Calgary’s premier street art festivals. The month-long festival of urban art murals started in 2017 as a way to show that public artworks “enrich communities, create beautiful and captivating places, challenge our ideas, provoke discussion and add beauty to the everyday.” The festival is funded by heavy hitters such as TD Canada, the City of Calgary, Parks Canada, and more, and is set in the Beltline area of Treaty 7 territory in Moh’kins’tsis, the indigenous name for Calgary.

In just five years, BUMP has grown to be a cultural event of national significance, garnering international attention. Most notable this year is the completion of the world’s tallest mural. Painted by German graffiti artist Mirko Reisser (DAIM) and standing at 310 feet, 9 inches tall, this staggering mural was a two-year undertaking, and with its completion, puts Calgary on the map in the world of international urban artworks. Like the gargantuan size of this mural, the many artists, coordinators, and volunteers involved in the BUMP Festival are also quite staggering.

Calgary is one of the biggest, busiest cities in Canada, and home to many voices and perspectives. A sprawling grey jungle of urban development, it’s sometimes too easy to lose the experiences and voices of the many people that call Calgary home. BUMP is helping to reimagine the concrete jungle as a multi-faceted playground of art, colour, and vibrancy. Growing outwards from the Beltline area, BUMP is transforming the city into an urban outdoor gallery, showcasing the art and ideas of many local, national, and international artists. In addition to beautifying the downtown area, urban art of this sort can also help change perspectives on what classifies as art.

The murals in BUMP come in many forms, from visual depictions of biodiversity, gender, myths, legends, world events, the human spirit—even just the joyful depictions of patterns and colour. Individual artists and artist collectives apply by the hundreds every year to be a part of this August-long event, and BUMP increases its outreach by additionally hosting live music, outdoor movie nights, artist talks to the public, graffiti jams, and art-making events. It’s hard to imagine how the festival will top its facilitation of the world’s tallest mural next year, though it’s fair to say that they don’t have to. Simply by existing and creating these much-needed opportunities for creative growth in the city, this festival will reach new and more colourful heights each year.


Find out more about the BUMP Festival at www.yycbump.ca