AJA Louden has gifted the Alberta Avenue community with a beautiful new mural that explores Afro-futurism. Sure Shot is painted on the side of Avenue Theatre and features gears, flowers, and an astronaut shooting a flower from her bow and arrow.
“I didn’t really have [the mural] super planned out at the beginning,” says Louden, “I just knew that I wanted to do that figure… and I just had some of the theme in mind. Then I just started painting it and the story kind of came together on its own.”
Louden’s creative process is different for every mural, but for Sure Shot he started with a rough sketch of the astronaut figure and a few lines to represent the beams of light, and built from there. “It’s kind of on a complicated surface too, so [I was] responding to the surface and the architecture of the building,” says Louden. “You can see the frame is the same width of this pillar, so that kind of was one of the things that helped decide the shape of [the mural].”
The mural took about 20 hours to complete and Louden painted it over several days.
Louden decided to paint the mural on Avenue Theatre as “kind of a gift from my studio to the community,” he says. “It’s a fun opportunity to be able to give this building just some new creative life because it has a really cool, interesting history. It’s been so many different things, so it’s nice to be able to make sure that it still has that life.”
The goal of Louden’s artwork changes with every piece, but he frequently explores representation and imagines a different future through his art. “I think when we look to the future, we kind of need to have imagination as artists… to sort of give us some different visions of what [the future] could be,” he says. And hopefully, he says, a painting or image of an imagined future can help us collectively choose the future we are going to create.
Louden has painted “dozens and dozens” of murals throughout Edmonton and he is committed to transforming walls and creating memorable spaces. Graffiti was Louden’s window into street art, and his interest grew from there. “I have a background with graffiti,” says Louden. “I just really fell in love with graffiti and was painting that a lot and just naturally started to explore some other themes and ideas to paint. And I still really love graffiti and I love any kind of unsanctioned public art; I think it really adds to the public art scene in general.”
His favourite part about being a street artist is having “the opportunity to have a voice and express a vision. I just love the feeling of painting, too. It’s just a really cool feeling… just being in the moment, being able to paint.”
Louden is excited to see how street art evolves in the future. “I just love that Edmonton’s starting to get on board with more and more different types of public art. We’re seeing different voices emerge in public art, and I think we’re doing cool things and I look forward to more of it.”