If you follow the Newfoundland and Labrador arts scene, you’re likely familiar with the name Marcus Gosse. The Stephenville artist’s work pays homage to his Mi’kmaq roots and immediately grabs attention through his use of symbolism and bright and vibrant colours. Represented by the Leyton Gallery of Fine Art, his work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally and more recently, he has also released a line of colouring books, helping people learn more about Mi’kmaq language and culture.
Gosse has worked on many a canvas, but his recent collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard is one of his largest solo works yet.
Located at the Coast Guard’s Regional Operations Centre in St. John’s, Gosse’s mural, titled “Ocean Courage” (“Apaqtk Mlkikno’ti”), is 13 feet long by 10 feet high and pays a beautiful tribute to the work of the Coast Guard in a way that only Gosse can.
“When the Coast Guard contacted me regarding a mural, I immediately envisioned icebergs, a whale and a Coast Guard boat…When we talked further, they agreed that these elements would compliment the mural. They mentioned that I could use whatever colours and elements I would like,” Gosse says.
“I am really proud of the mural, and I am very thankful to the Coast Guard for the commission.”
The piece, which he worked on for eight to 12 hours a day over the span of a week in March, celebrates the Coast Guard’s work through Gosse’s signature style. Showing the Ann Harvey Coast Guard boat sailing between two icebergs on a sunny day, with a humpback whale below, Gosse recently shared the significance of the piece via his Instagram page.
“The Mi’kmaq Star in the sun and whale is a petroglyph, or, carving in stone which displays unity between all people. The Mi’kmaq Hieroglyphs represents ‘Forever In Peace.’ The double curves in the icebergs and whale show balance in nature, cultural connectedness, and the spiritual journey of the Coast Guard. Through the designs and symbols, this painting shows the physical and spiritual depths that the Coast Guard will travel to ensure public safety, accessibility and security of Canadian waters,” he writes.
For Gosse, this latest project provides the opportunity to share his proud heritage and culture with a wider audience.
“I am very thankful to be a self-employed Mi’kmaq artist, working with several organizations such as the Coast Guard, to bring Mi’kmaq culture and art into public buildings and spaces,” he says.
Via an emailed statement to Business & Arts NL, the Coast Guard says Gosse’s mural helps beautify the space and inspire those employees who work out of the Regional Operations Centre and Maritime Rescue Sub-centre.
“Every time a Canadian Coast Guard ship or helicopter is needed to deliver critical maritime services like icebreaking, pollution response, or search and rescue, the people who work here make it happen. Marcus Gosse’s mural ‘Ocean Courage’ is the first thing those employees see as they arrive at the centre each day.”
Enhancing their spaces with art, the Coast Guard adds, also helps create a “welcoming and inclusive work environment for everyone,” something which Paul Veber, Superintendent of the Regional Operations Centre, says is important to the organization.
“Prioritizing Indigenous art in our workspace is a lasting reminder of our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” he says.
“This mural speaks to a shared vision for unity and inclusion in our workplaces, and in the communities we serve.”