Along with the artwork of 40 other artists from around the globe, Downes’ painting “Phoenix Rising” will be digitally reproduced and printed onto fabric to create boat sails and banners. Sailings are scheduled to take place on Toronto’s waterfront on July 12 and 19.
According to information released by the museum, Watercolour celebrates the culture and artistry of Pan American nations, and it will feature artwork by one artist from each of the 41 participating countries. The designs will animate sailboats on Lake Ontario with their rich visual diversity during the Games’ ceremonies.
Downes, who was notified by e-mail in January that his painting had been selected to be included in the large-scale project, said he was skeptical at first.
“I thought that it was a fraudulent spam e-mail, so I deleted it and went about my day. The next week, I received the same e-mail again, so I called some friends in Canada to see if this place really exists. I also sent the letter to some of my close friends to see what they thought,” Downes said.
After conducting his research, Downes said he finally understood that the email was “the real deal.”
Of having his artwork represent the territory at one of the world’s largest sporting events, Downes said, “Anyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about these islands, so being selected for something like this is truly an honor. In life we have moments that define us, and this is one of my defining moments. God is truly good and I am thankful for the gift that He has bestowed upon me. This is truly a blessing, and I hope to continue using my gift to inspire and uplift our Virgin Islands.”
“Sails are among the most ancient and most iconic expressions of textiles in everyday life,” said Textile Museum of Canada Executive Director Shauna McCabe in a prepared statement. “Transcending space and time, sails make perfect sense as a way to communicate what we have in common – the universal experiences and imaginations that inspire everyone – artists to athletes – to achieve their dreams.”
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, the Textile Museum of Canada’s award-winning work with contemporary artists and global cultural traditions has informed the Watercolour project.