Anjuli Solanki —
Local youth from Thorncliffe and Flemingdon communities, members of the Toronto Emerging ARTivists (TEA) – winners of Toronto Youth
Cabinet’s Community Arts Award and NXTCity Prize – will unveil their newly created eco mural, facing the city’s first cricket field on the grounds of Valley Park Middle School.
Titled “In Our Hands,” this environmentally-themed mural was designed and painted by local youth under the mentorship of celebrated local artist Nick Sweetman, in collaboration with the award-winning community arts organization – The STEPS Initiative – who installed the World’s Tallest Mural in St. James Town in 2013.
The mural not only contribute to environmental, but speaks to historic legacy of the Don River, while beautifying this new public space. The design illustrates the impact of environmental stewardship over several generations with the visual incorporation cupping hands (taken from pictures of community members) of various ages, holding a growing sapling. The new work is comprised of four 8- by 15-foot wall sections. The Don River and Don Valley symbolize an important connector of transition throughout history. Leaves made from chalkboard paint woven throughout the work enable community members to share their thoughts and aspirations for our local environment. This installation is intended to be a site of dialogue through continued programming developed in collaboration with project partners.
On Sept. 21, from 2:45 – 4 pm (Ribbon Cutting at 3 pm) members of the wider community are invited to celebrate the unveiling of this new public art installation, and to chalk their environmental commitments or aspirations, as well as walk through the newly created eco-park.
This project has been made possible through the support of Kiwanis, the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Province of Ontario’s PanAm Ignite Program, ArtReach Toronto, Flemingdon Health Centre, Dulux Paint, Greenwin Inc, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office and Valley Park Middle School.
Toronto Emerging ARTivists (TEA), a collective of young people (ages 14 – 22) from across some of Toronto’s most underserved communities, is committed to improving their neighbourhoods through public art. Their mission is to bring communities together and speak out against issues facing our communities, including improving public spaces. With the support of their partners and mentors, they have led and supported several youth-led projects across Toronto, and have been recognized for their achievements through receiving numerous awards.
The STEPS Initiative is an award-winning public arts organization responsible for installing the World’s Tallest Mural that uses art to raise awareness about public space and urban design issues. Among other programs they facilitate leadership initiatives that provide a platform for community members to propose their own local projects.