This summer at Art Starts we have the opportunity to work with four members of our incredible 2SLGBTQIA+ community to create a public art piece on the shipping containers at Albion Library in Etobicoke. After two weeks of meetings, planning, team building, and design the youth artists decided on a theme of afrocentrism, food and movement.
Together with StreetARToronto, North York Harvest Food Bank and Toronto Public Library, our team of youth artists will learn mural-painting skills from Toronto-based visual/public artist, Monica Wickeler, gaining valuable skills to participate in public art projects in their communities.
*Header photo: Youth Artist, Huney Pathan. Photo by Sharika Khan.
Monica Wickeler is a trained visual artist who has worked in the large-scale painting industry for many years. With over 50 murals completed, Monica specializes in aerosol, contemporary art and artist mentoring. While producing outdoor advertising, commercial murals and painting scenes for the Film and Television industry, Monica discovered her love for community-based projects:
“I am passionate about the way a large-scale public art project can bring together the community and the youth within this community. The power of art, it amazes me.”
After experiencing some creative stagnation during Covid, the youth artists are eager to dive in. They each bring their own unique perspective and skill set – some never having worked on this scale at all, but excited to try something new and learn from the other artists.
Tomás Gatica (he/them) @v_gaaatoo is a 23 year old artist. He moved to Toronto from Chile two years ago. For work, he paints houses and for fun, he enjoys acrylic painting, graffiti and biking. Throughout this process, Tomás is excited to develop himself and his art practice, skills and techniques, and to create community art spaces.
“I’m excited about this project because it is a big step to learn more about murals and a community that I’d love to be more involved in. I’m also grateful for this opportunity to learn and share with different cultures and generations. This exchange is very valuable to me. For me, doing this mural is a way to connect with my friend who passed, who was a really great artist. This way I can connect with him, be myself, enjoy the experience, and be creative.”
Huney Pathan (she/her), of HUNEY STUDIOS @huneystudios is a 23 year old from Scarborough, Ontario. She is a visual artist who paints on sneakers, murals, clothing and handbags.
“My art is an extension of me. Creating serves as a way to hold onto old memories while simultaneously working through new challenges. It’s my inner dialogue in visual form. Through painting and creating in multiple mediums, I’m constantly learning about myself.”
Kardell McAfee (he/him) @kardell.m is a Black and queer interdisciplinary creator and photographer from Toronto. His current arts focus is rooted in finding and making beauty in everyday reality. Kardell’s current goal is to find a signature art style and aesthetic language, and go forward with that. He joined this program to collaborate with and meet other artists.
“I look up to artists such as Ross Lovegrove, he is an interdisciplinary designer. My mentors are artists who are also interdisciplinary thinkers that combine futures and systems design, fashion, anthropology and such.”
An artist stuck in a scientist’s body, Tian Tang (she/they) @tang.anarchy is a data analyst by day and artist by night. Her work intends to focus on exploring concepts of self through figurative art, portraiture, installation and sculpture. Using the human form to narrate, the aim is to communicate and connect by attempting to address her own personal struggles and experiences. Tian hopes to invoke longing, thought, and novel perspectives about the human experience through her representations, while allowing others’ self sentiments to be realized, acknowledged and felt.
“I think public art in the city is really important to brighten up Toronto, bring the community together and to make suburban sprawl look less like sprawl, and make the city more welcoming, like there are real people living here.”
The themes of the mural can be traced back to the project itself, with inclusivity and community at the heart. Even with such a short turnaround, this mural will provide an undeniably impactful experience for the youth – allowing them to share their voice and expand their artistic portfolios.
The mural started on August 9th, 2021 and is set to wrap up shortly. Stay tuned on our social media @ArtStartsTO for the BIG reveal of the StreetART Toronto Mural to the Etobicoke community in the fall!