Lights On The Exchange, a public winter arts festival, aims to reconstruct historical narratives in relation to the district’s heritage buildings. Jonato Dalayoan and Kristen Roos shine light on the colourful histories in their festival artworks.

Jonato Dalayoan

Jonato Dalayoan is a Canadian-born, first-generation Filipino graphic designer and visual artist who has worked on his craft for over 20 years. Growing up, he always gravitated towards creative outlets, spending time drawing, sculpting, building, and inventing. A natural artist, he went to school for graphic design despite his parent’s wishes that he pursue engineering.  This career path gave him the space to pursue a creative practice while supporting his family. Yet still, the dream of being a full-time artist was there, and six years ago, he became a freelance designer and began to pursue visual artwork.

“I think everyone is an artist in their own way; I just decided to focus and share it,” says Jonato. He describes his work as impactful, bold, approachable, conscious, adaptable, timeless, and simple while still having depth and constantly evolving. Jonato uses his art as a form of communication, and the style of his work reflects the message he hopes to share for each specific project. Focusing on concept more than style means that, at times, it can be hard to describe exactly what he does- his style is constantly changing and lives in the now.

When it comes to inspiration, Jonato says, “I do my best to find potential in everything. Often, it’s the simple things or experiences that we overlook that hold stories that lead to things that are inspiring.” Citing everything and everyone as possible sources of inspiration, he most often finds it from his wife, children and faith.

Jonato’s lantern PAG-ASA (Hope)

Jonato’s Lantern for Lights on the Exchange is titled PAG-ASA, which means Hope in Tagalog. The title is a way to honour his culture and represents the idea of finding light in dark times.  Each side of the lantern displays different patterns, representing the community’s diversity and the integration of various cultures synchronizing and working together. “The design is intended to reflect the bustling creative energy of the Exchange today while finding joy in the chaos,” posits Jonato. 

Jonato is proud to represent the Filipino community with his work, and “Being able to represent my community and inspiring other artists is a big part of what keeps me motivated and having a piece [in Lights on the Exchange] along with the diverse group of other artists is amazing.” It’s a goal of Jonato’s to have his work make a positive impact and inspire others, particularly young Filipino or BIPOC artists who may not always see themselves represented in creative communities.

Jonato Dalayoan painting a mural

The Exchange District has always felt like a cultural hub to Jonato and one of the places in Winnipeg he feels comforted and inspired. He recognizes that the Exchange has always been diverse and eclectic, though Filipino representation was not always present.

“I often think about how different it was in the Exchange in the early 1900s and how it would have been very unlikely that a Filipino artist would be able to have an art piece up on any wall then, so to be able to share a piece now means a lot,” he says, noting how much the Exchange has changed and continues to evolve.

Jonato hopes his community is proud to have Filipino art represented in the Exchange District. Check out Jonato’s Lantern at 171 Bannatyne Ave / Ashdown Market.

You can see more of his work on the barriers of Portage and Main, VA Café, Fortune Block/Times Changed, The Forks, The Beer Can, Tito Boys Restaurant, Pizza Express, Manitoba Music, Art Residence and other places around the city. He’s also been commissioned by Manitoba 150, Travel Manitoba, The Jets Filipino Heritage Night and this year’s Festival du Voyageur. 

Or visit him online:

Instagram: @4two_design 

Kristen Roos

Kristen Roos is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and father who focuses on textiles, animation, sound art and electronic music composition.  Kristen has worked with various mediums as a practicing artist for over 20 years.

Kristen points to a few pivotal moments throughout his childhood that led him to become an artist. Growing up with a single mom who was an artist, he explored painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking techniques at an early age. He grew to appreciate dance and electronic music through exposure to breakdancing and the electronic music, Hip-Hop and sampling accompanying this medium. He took an animation class when he was ten years old that really ingrained the style in him, mainly what is now considered experimental stop-motion animation techniques. However, when he attended a public arts high school, he gained the confidence to pursue the arts. He pursued an interdisciplinary fine arts degree at Concordia University in Montreal, where he explored electroacoustic music, media arts, performance art, video art history, dance history courses, sound art, installation art, sound sculpture, and printmaking. After that, he completed his MFA at the University of Victoria.

Kirsten Roos in front of his weavings

Kristen’s piece for Lights on the Exchange draws inspiration from the historical context of weavers’ windows, which were prominent in the UK prior to the Industrial Revolution. Titled ‘Weavers Windows’ to reflect this connection, the artwork utilizes a technique called colour cycling, originating from early computer systems, to animate textile-inspired patterns. By cycling through warm red and cool blue tones, the piece evokes movement and references both the Jacquard loom’s patterns and early computer imagery.

In terms of storytelling, the artwork delves into the shared evolution of technology between the loom and the printing press, highlighting their societal impact. This exploration prompts a deeper examination of the Exchange District’s history, particularly its role in print, light manufacturing and the garment industry. Through the projection of imagery onto the Winnipeg Free Press building’s windows, the piece serves as a visual narrative, connecting the past with the present and shedding light on the district’s lesser-known histories.

Kristen’s video projections in ‘Weavers Windows’ reflect a particular aspect of his work that uses various techniques to create animated loops. “I’m using techniques from the past and fusing them with the technology of today, so the style of this work is both vintage/retro and also very contemporary and perhaps futuristic.” He pulls techniques from computer art of the 1960s, video games of the 1980s-1990s, plus visual music, video art, abstract animation and expanded cinema of the 1930s. The result is a piece that reflects similar yet differing histories of the evolution of projected video and animation.

Kristen’s piece ‘Weavers Windows’

Kristen highlights the transition of their animated cityscapes from digital creations to tangible installations in public spaces, prompting reflections on the intersection of the digital and physical worlds. As the fantastical spaces that he has created on screens become a reality in public spaces, he reflects: “I’ve been thinking about how these two worlds are connected, and how both worlds are impacted by my work emerging into a public space, on an architectural form that is both a kind of screen and physical structure. It’s a great space to have an impact on people who might or might not pursue media art/video art/animation.”

You can see Kristen’s projection work at 237 McDermot Ave / Winnipeg Free Press Cafe.

Or check out more of his art online:

Instagram: @kris10roos and @kirstenroos_textiles