Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • February-March 2023 • Circulation 5000

George Zhang: “Mentorship is very empowering.”

George Zhang. Supplied

George Zhang is a musician and also a mentor at CreArt. He has been playing the guitar for many years, and he also sings and plays a bit of piano and violin.

CreArt Edmonton’s website states that “CreArt is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating accessible art and community spaces where people share their knowledge in a horizontal approach to education and community development. We strongly believe in the power of arts to produce positive social transformation in our society.”

Zhang became involved with CreArt seven years ago, when he met Sabastian Barrera, the founder of CreArt Edmonton. “I started off as a guitar student at CreArt. I was taught by him alongside many other CreArt mentors. Slowly, I started to resonate with his inspiring vision: to promote free education in arts and community development. As I became better at guitar, I also followed Sebastian’s path and became a mentor,” he explains.

“I was told that I’m one of the youngest mentors in the community. I actually believe that the idea of mentorship is very empowering because it feels really nice to see students of yours grow. They can use what they have learned to make other people grow as well. That is the whole idea of CreArt – to give the opportunity to everyone who wants to participate,” Zhang says.

“My mission aligns with CreArt’s mission to promote non-profit arts in the community. We want to have social transformation in the form of art. The best way we think to do that is through our ability to mentor others and give them the opportunity to learn what they want. I have been part of CreArt for many years. I think this will be seven or eight years with CreArt. Every Saturday I teach guitar and mentor other community members. And I’ve been doing that for four or five years.”

Zhang is also a board member of CreArt. He joined the board two years ago when he turned 18. “I have been involved in CreArt’s other projects not as a volunteer, but as an official member of the board and a mentor. Every year in the summer we have a mural project where we paint a lot of murals and we put them up in the river valley,” he adds.

One of Zhang’s projects is a YouTube channel for him and his band, called “Ph15 Music.” “We try our best to record our own music, along with other covers, and try to upload it. We are looking for more opportunities to perform and also to collaborate with others.”

What does the future hold for Zhang? “I am currently [pursuing] an Education degree hoping to become a teacher. I think that was influenced by CreArt. As I said previously, watching my students strive and become better day by day is very rewarding for me. I do really believe in leadership and mentorship.”

You can find out more about how to take free guitar lessons or participate in mural painting and other projects with CreArt at creartedmonton.com. And, check out Zhang’s band “Ph15 Music” on YouTube, as well as on TikTok and Instagram=.

Corine Demas is the President of the Heart of the City Festival. She lives in McCauley.

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