Kindness and acceptance.
Sometimes it seems these themes of Pink Shirt Day are lacking in our society.
So when University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) visual arts student Chantelle Trainor-Matties designed her vision of a pink shirt for the anti-bullying effort, she looked to animals for her own inspiration.
The resulting artwork depicts a pair of otters in a moment of togetherness.
“A young otter observed another playing alone in the river,” reads the UFV student’s statement for the piece. “Without a second thought it plunged into the cool waters to offer its favourite rock as an invitation to a playful and harmonious dance.”
A message printed around the circular graphic goes a step further to explain the anti-bullying message: “Build others up. Don’t tear them down.”
“To me this means to treat everyone with love and respect, and the way that you would want to be treated,” Trainor-Matties said. “The world could use a lot more of that.”
She used otters because of a fondness for them that stems from her own past and present ferret companions.
“Both animals are from the same family and very social creatures, which seemed like a great choice to represent friendship and unity,” the Abbotsford resident said.
Trainor-Matties has Nisga’a and Métis background in her family history and explores that heritage in her artwork.
She works with Nations Creations, a company that supports indigenous artists. That’s where the opportunity to submit a design for the anti-bullying effort entered the picture. Nations Creations put out a call for its artists to create something for the annual day of action.
“I totally support the cause and thought it would be an amazing opportunity to work on my design skills, regardless of whether my design was chosen or not,” Trainor-Matties said.
The shirts, with Trainor-Matties’ “Dance of the Otters” design, are available at UFV’s Chilliwack and Abbotsford campus bookstores in the lead-up to Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 27. Five dollars from every shirt sale goes toward helping at-risk youth.
The shirts are also available at the Sto:lo Gift Shop.
More of Trainor-Matties’ artwork can be found on Facebook and Instagram under @frettchanstudios.
Trainor-Matties will be at the Sto:lo Gift Shop in Chilliwack at the Sto:lo Nation site, building 19 at 7201 Vedder Rd. for a Meet the Artist event on Feb. 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.