Making her mark through art

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A recent graduate of the Art Fundamentals program at Sheridan, Amber Wheaton never thought that her first award as an artist would come while she was still in school. It was also to her surprise that the organization recognizing her art is a multinational company and one at which she had been employed part-time during her studies. The emerging artist had the opportunity to leave a lasting mark on both her school and former place of work in the form of an illustrated print, or a thumbprint, to be precise.

A unique thumbprint design by Wheaton was selected by a team at Tim Hortons as the winning submission of the Canada Project, an initiative administered as part of the curriculum in the studio-based Art Fundamentals program. In its fifth year, the project challenges students to create a piece of artwork that symbolically represents Canada and its diversity. Submissions were put forward by 370 students and five were selected by faculty to present to Tim Hortons for consideration. Involving Tim Hortons in the challenge was a natural partnership, as it is an iconic Canadian franchise and a long-time vendor at Sheridan.

To create her illustration, Wheaton used finely drawn lines and ridges found in a thumbprint as connective markers to map out images symbolic to Canada. “For the intricate design, I wanted to work with a technique that I am most familiar with, native abstract with a touch of impressionism,” she explained. Her piece is titled, “Canada, Land of Contrast.” Her art was inspired by the interconnectedness of the people in Canada despite its vast landscape. “My initial vision for this piece was to come up with a design that shows the unity of Canada and how we are diverse but come from the same roots,” Wheaton explained.

For the Kitchener native, drawing comes naturally, having grown up in a family that always encouraged creative expression. Wheaton describes art as “therapeutic” and after discovering her passion for art and design in high school, the Art Fundamentals program at Sheridan was a perfect fit for her ambitions. Her decision to pursue art has been rewarding, with her success academically and her $1000 cheque from Tim Hortons for her artwork.

Wheaton worked in collaboration with Tim Hortons to adapt her piece to also include symbols to represent Tim Hortons’ international presence with its establishments in the U.S. and even Dubai. “The piece embodied everything we wanted to portray and the symbols that are emblematic of Tim Hortons,” said David Rowney, Senior Manager of Organizational Communications at Tim Hortons. The flexibility of her design appealed to the team at Tim Hortons, who intend to distribute signed prints as special awards and gifts to staff and organizational partners.

With her studies ending and her employment at Tim Hortons coming to a close, Wheaton looks ahead to a life as an artist. Her original illustration will be given a permanent home at Tim Hortons’ head office in Oakville, not far from Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus where the piece was designed.

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