Michel Dumont’s Installation Receives National Recognition
By Ayla Marion
Since our lives drastically changed in March, many people have had to come up with creative ways to spend their newfound free time. Some people have taken to baking, some reading, and even more are discovering the joys of endless streaming. However, Thunder Bay artist Michel Dumont has found inspiration in isolation by creating his latest installation, inspired by COVID-19 itself.
What began with broken mirrors from the old Eaton’s building being fashioned into a home “infinity room,” has turned into the mirrored disco ball and cellophane coronavirus-shaped installation that has now been recognized nationally. When Dumont contributed this piece to a contest run by Toronto art collective STEPS Initiative, which highlights what artists have been up to during quarantine, he was one of eight winners chosen.
Dumont says the adjustment into total social isolation was not as shocking for him as it may have been for others. As a disabled artist, he already works from the comfort of his own home. He also says that living through the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s as a queer man left him more emotionally equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic than many others.
Even so, he says he noticed a lot of negativity and pessimism and was determined to make a difference. Dumont’s goal when creating the sculpture was to take the fear from this virus that is affecting the whole world, and turn it into something good—into love. It is a figurative and literal light in a dark time filled with unknowns, and he used the winning money he received from the contest to upscale the installation and place it in the city for the public to view.
Dumont says he’s pleasantly surprised by the reaction his installment has received. “It’s cool that I did it for personal pleasure and it ended up being recognized nationally,” he says, adding that he’s proud to have come from northern Ontario and become known amongst big-city artists. He is also very supportive of the growing movement of making art more accessible in Thunder Bay, and has felt the community’s support right back since his installation went up.Dumont’s installation can be viewed in the windows of the Royal Edward Arms building on May Street, and his art can be followed on his instagram page @madbear67 and his hashtag #infinitedumont.