One Red Deer man is on a mission to give back to the community by using his gift of photography.
Over the past three weeks, Tim Van Horn, 44, has photographed 2,013 Red Deerians for a mosaic as part of the celebration for the centennial. The mosaic will incorporate part of the Canadian flag as well as a deer which symbolizes the City.
“I am using City Hall as the background of the white part of the flag. The rest of the time I have gone to special events including the farmer’s market and sporting events and I’m using a red background for those photos. That is how I am shaping this,” he said.
The mosaic, which will be about 8X20 ft. will be permanently installed at 4617-46 Ave. and will be unveiled June 15th at that location at noon.
Van Horn said this is his gift to Red Deerians as it is a self-funded project but he hopes to garner donations to help move his projects forward.
“I’m going out on a limb by doing this but I think there is going to be enough interest in the poster and in the artwork afterwards. This is my offering to the City to say ‘Happy birthday’ and I need your help not only with the Red Deer Mosaic but with the Canadian mosaic which is going all across the country.”
The Red Deer Mosaic is also part of a bigger project – the Canadian Mosaic Project. For this project, Van Horn has taken 22,000 portraits of Canadians across the country in the past 57 months. The portraits he has taken for the Red Deer Mosaic will also be used for the Canadian Mosaic Project. His goal is to have the Canadian mosaic ready for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
“The concept is I am trying to record .1 per cent of the population from thousands of locations across the country – that is 36,000 people,” he said. “It’s quite an undertaking to stay on the road for that long but also the geographical area I have to cover is enormous so that is a real challenge to represent the whole country because it’s so spread out.”
People can support Van Horn’s project by sponsoring a kilometre or by purchasing a poster of either the Red Deer Mosaic or the Canadian Mosaic.
“The mosaic is about the people, for the people and powered by the people.”
The Canadian Mosaic will be 10X20 ft. once it’s finished.
Meanwhile, Van Horn was born in Edmonton. Growing up he moved around frequently as his father was in the military.
“I got used to constant change and I never wanted to stop that. As a boy about four or five years old I decided I wanted to be a photographer so that I could travel around the world and meet people and experience their cultures and have all of these adventures,” he said. “I have always stuck with that dream and here I am doing it right now.”
Van Horn graduated from Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary in 1992. For the next six years he did commercial photography in that city before he recorded the last days of the wooden grain elevators in 1998.
“I went all over the prairies off and on over four years and made this exhibit that traveled with the Glenbow for three years.”
After that projected wrapped, Van Horn began work on the I Am Albertan book which was a centennial project for the province in 2005.
“I managed to raise enough money to put one book in every school and library in Alberta. I actually delivered all of those books to the districts,” he said. “It was a very ambitious undertaking. It was self-published.”
Van Horn said his passion and drive for his craft stems from his childhood.
“When I was growing up as a military kid I developed a sense of duty. I saw my grandpa go to the war and my dad go to the war. I thought that sense of duty is what everyone should have in their life. But I’m not military material. I don’t believe in war,” he said. “So I came up with my own tour of duty which was to unite the country visually. I married my sense of duty with my sense of art.
“All of us should do something big in our lives for our country or for our community whether it be raising a good family, or being a good husband, or being a photographer that unites the country – it’s all the same. This is how I give back to Canada and the people of Canada to inspire them to believe in themselves and one another.”
For more information, to donate or to purchase a poster, check out www.iamreddeer.ca or www.canadianmosaic.ca.