On the Brink

by Li Hill

Churchill, Canada – June 2017


Finding This Mural

This mural is located at the Churchill Recycling Center.

Google Map

Story Behind This Mural

Artist Statement

The tension between human societies and the natural environment is a reoccurring theme in my work. In a town such as Churchill, built directly on the central migration route of polar bears, this tension is not only prevalent but exacerbated. For my piece, I have depicted two scenes, a local conservation officer from the town and a flurry of Polar bears, Arctic sleigh dogs and or wolves. Poised to shoot cracker shells, the main tool to scare off bears, the uniform and stance of the officer allude to times of hunting and stand for human aggression. In this case aggression used to protect both bears and humans alike. On the right side is a flurry of Polar bears and Arctic sleigh dogs or wolves (depending on what you see). In the town of Churchill there is an added tension due to one figure’s rearing practices attempting to save an overlooked species, the Canadian arctic sleigh dog. Put to the brink of extinction by the Canadian government, this animal, which for thousands of years ensured survival in the north, is also at risk and together with the polar bears call out amid extinction. In the context of the town and specifically the recycling center where this mural was painted, the interaction between bears and conservation officers are extremely common and the reading of this piece becomes more specific. In the broader context and more central to theme is the fact the image radiates outward from a division line. Instead of man vs nature here, it is two sides of the same coin. Both humans and endangered species are in a state of fight or flight. A heightened sense of emergency due to climate change and the long list of global issues place everything in a precarious position. In a town such as Churchill the tensions are local but the story is global.

Take Action

Visit the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society to learn how you can help preserve Canada's wild treasures and the species that call it home.