One of a handful of female mural artists in the country, Shalak Attack isn’t shy about her work. The Chilean-Canadian muralist uses bright, bold colours, incorporating nature and faces from a variety of cultures. “Some people will identify with [these murals] and will feel visually represented,” she says.
Shalak Attack’s parents immigrated to Canada in the late 1970s, when Chile was ruled by a harsh military dictatorship. “Their views and beliefs of equality, justice and democracy were being trampled in Chile,” she says.
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She studied art at Concordia University, but after travelling around South America — specifically Brazil, where street art is celebrated — she started experimenting with muralism. “It’s a more democratic way of using art,” she says, “because it’s for everybody.”
She now lives in Toronto with her husband, Bruno Smoky, who is also a street artist. Her favourite thing about painting urban murals is the spontaneity and freedom. “People are watching, and that energy is so fresh. In the studio, you have more of a controlled laboratory. But in the streets, it’s more of a performance. It just makes you want to do the best and have fun.”
Amy van den Berg is a writer based in northern Ontario.
This article first appeared in Broadview’s September 2021 issue with the title “The lens.”
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