Categories: Entertainment

Kickstarting the Kings

PRINCE OF PEACE – The King of Kings mural by Lewis Lavoie.

By all accounts, his newest project has been a labour of love for Lewis Lavoie. The artist behind Mural Mosaic always has his eyes on the big picture, both literally and figuratively speaking. He’s one of the masterminds behind the local creative company that produces massive images made out of hundreds of tiles of smaller pictures. Those individual tiles are painted by different artists from across the region, the country, and sometimes the world.

But there has always been one project that he’s had going on behind the scenes and after hours, and he’s been doing it all by himself.

Lavoie, a pious man, has always wanted to paint a mural of Jesus Christ. There was always one problem with that plan, however, and it was a big problem.

“I think that artists who want to express their faith through their art oftentimes will fall into that trap of creating a graven image,” he explained in a promotional video. “As an artist, that’s the one thing I don’t want to do.”

That’s his philosophy behind King of Kings, a nearly completed project with 195 separate tiles, each with its own king. Lavoie meticulously researched kings of the world and came up with a long list of subjects for this particular work. Interestingly enough, not all of the tiles represent bona fide kings.

There’s Magnus the Blind (King of Norway from 1130 to 1139) and Darius the Great (King of Persia from 522 to 486 BC) but there are also some queens, like Nefertiti (the Queen of Egypt who died in 1330 BC) and Amina (Queen of Zazzau from 1549 to 1610).

Not one to stop at pure royalty, he also put in a healthy dose of major heads of state. John F. Kennedy? He’s there. Margaret Thatcher? Her too. Atahualpa, Emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu, and Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire? Both present and accounted for.

Lavoie wanted this to be a document of historic education as well.

“It was a great project in the sense that as I was working on it, I was really starting to look at what is a king. What makes a king a king? That started to become my real project. It was to bring that back and understand it a little bit more. I just really believe that we’re such a democratic society that we don’t think in terms of kingdoms any more.”

He said that Jesus came to bring a kingdom, not a religion. “I’m not a theologian,” he clarifies. “I’m just an artist!”

Asking for help the new-fashioned way

King of Kings has been in the works for about five years now and is nearing completion. All he needs is for a show of support from the public to put the rest of the pieces in place.

To help make this a successful effort, Mural Mosaic has created a Kickstarter campaign. This is a still relatively novel way to raise capital for any kind of project through crowdfunding. It’s more than a call for alms. It’s really just pooling resources through the power of the Internet and social media.

The campaign was just launched last week. Its goal is to raise $15,000. As of Monday, it already had garnered more than 60 backers who had plunked down more than two-thirds of the total, collectively pledging $10,033.

To add further incentives to prospective investors, there are gifts to be given to the donors for various levels of financial support. For instance, a $10 donation gets you a King of Kings bookmark and a mosaic Nativity Advent calendar. For $68, you can get a limited edition print of the finished mosaic.

The deadline is Monday, Dec. 16. Members of the public can check out the project and support the campaign through www.muralmosaic.com. There’s a link to the King of Kings’ Kickstarter site at the top of the page.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.