My City My Art multi-media exhibit showcases the beauty, character and diversity of the city's neighbourhoods through the eyes of Toronto children and youth.
Individuals, some as young as eight years old, were given paint brushes, pens, cameras, canvases, computers, paper maché, clay and many other design tools to express themselves in mediums where anything is possible.
The result from these first-time artists, designers, sculptors, photographers and poets is captivating and insightful works of art that demonstrate how young people see their neighbourhood, interpret their environment and how they envision a better future for us all.
Since 2005, Arts Services has partnered with its community partners and local arts service organizations to create more than 30 arts and culture programs for young people in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods. Innovative and diverse, many of these community arts programs are featured in My City My Art.
These community arts programs support Toronto's Community Safety Plan, and play an important role in connecting youth to neighbourhoods and opportunities. Community arts programs engage youth in the arts as a means to build employability and life skills, confidence and self-esteem that will lead to future opportunities, including training, education and employment.
My City My Art reception
In April 2006, Arts Services hosted the My City My Art exhibit and reception at Toronto City Hall to celebrate and recognize the talented and creative minds behind the words, cameras and paint brushes. More than 100 photographs, poems, sculptures, murals, comic books and zines were on display to be viewed and admired by participants' friends, families and Toronto residents.
Christian Carrizo spoke at the My City My Art reception about his experience as a participant in the Downsview Mural Project. Read Christian's speech (PDF)
Khayti Gupta told the crowd about what she learned as a participant in the Malvern Zine Project. Read Khayti's speech (PDF)
My City My Art online exhibit
See My City My Art for yourself. The exhibit has been made available online to continue to celebrate the successes and accomplishments of Toronto 's young people.
Click on the slide shows below to view each of the 14 community arts programs that make up My City My Art.
About the exhibits
Art in Action Sculpture Workshops, Printmaking and Clay
Partners: Arts for Children of Toronto; Jane Finch Mall; JVS Toronto
Drawing inspiration from Carnival traditions around the world (Caribbean, European, North American, and Latin American) and their own imaginations, students created their own Carnival character masks that can be worn and displayed in their homes. Plaster bandage and paper maché were used to construct the masks and acrylic paints and mixed media were used to adorn them. Students learned about the history and cultural significance of Carnival and traditional mask characters through this project.
Art in Action Mural Panel Program
Neighbourhood: Lawrence Heights
Partners: Arts for Children of Toronto; Toronto Public Health; Toronto Public Library; Toronto Community Housing; Tri Art; Lawrence Heights Neighbourhood Action; Mothers of Neptune
Young people between eight and 15 years of age participated in mural panel workshops. The participants used l arge mural panels to showcase these unique visions of their community. The panels reflect the hope, determination, and passion of the young people as they demonstrate the many positive aspects of life in the Neptune neighbourhood.
The legacy of work by the participants will be donated to the Neptune Building where they will be on permanent exhibition. Please enjoy the end results of this ambitious project and watch for m ask-making, t he next exciting program to take place in the Neptune community in 2007.
Art in Action Mural Panel Workshops
Partners: Arts for Children of Toronto; JVS Toronto; Jane Finch Mall
Young people between eight and 19 years of age participated in mural panel workshops. Individual panels were created by participants to reflect their unique visions of the city. In addition to individual panels, young people created large panels which illustrate the cultural diversity of the community.
The mural panels will be donated to JVS Toronto for permanent exhibition as a legacy of this project. Enjoy the murals as artistic reflections of what the Jane-Finch neighbourhood means to the youth who call it home.
Comic Book Project 'S'
Neighbourhoods: Malvern and Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park
Partners: Freeze DNA Design & Advertising; Toronto District School Board
Students from Lester B. Pearson Collegiate and Sir Robert L. Borden Business and Technical Institute honed their skills in comic book art and storytelling by working with Freeze DNA, a cutting-edge local design company and creator of youth publications.
The artwork provided youth with a vehicle to tell their stories and allows us a glimpse into their everyday lives in their communities. Equally important, participants gained skills and knowledge from positive role models in arts and business.
Downsview Mural Project
Partners: Downsview Park Arts Alliance; Parc Downsview Park
The Downsview Mural project, located in Downsview Park, provided youth interested in pursuing careers in the fine arts with a platform to develop their artistic abilities through skills training in the design and creation of large-scale murals. At the same time, this unique employment project introduced youth to entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of the culture sector.
Youth participated in workshops on life drawing, painting and mural history and in discussions about the origins of arts and culture in Canada, from Aboriginal art to graffiti and hip hop. One of the project's goals was to emphasize the public role of mural art which can send positive and uplifting messages about the community it represents while, at the same time, simply existing as beautiful artwork.
Malvern Zine Project
Partner: Toronto Public Library
The Zine (self-published graphic novels, usually photocopied) was developed as a way to provide a platform for youth to express themselves and share stories about their experience with life in the Malvern community.
Through a series of workshops, youth received weekly instructional demonstrations to give them a variety of perspectives and skill sets relating to the production of a graphic novel. Throughout the workshops participants toiled, creating polished graphic novel art pieces with a strong literary component. The pieces have been collected to create "The Malvern Scene", which embodies the creative expression of Malvern youth. The Zine is available at the Malvern District Library and online at the Toronto Public Library - RAMP website.
Manga/Pictures and Words Project
Partners: North Etobicoke Revitalization Project; Albion Neighbourhood Services; Toronto Public Library; Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation; Toronto Arts Council; The United Way of Greater Toronto
This youth engagement project was designed to increase skill development and self-expression through the instruction of comic drawing techniques. The program encouraged the expression of issues and sharing of ideas and provided a positive and creative environment for youth. Workshop sessions were held at three locations in North Etobicoke. The final result is a comic book entitled "A State of Mind Between the Lines" that combines Manga and other comic book art with the written word.
Media Centre Mural Project
Partner: Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation
Through an innovative partnership between the City of Toronto, Microsoft Canada, Humber College, the YMCA of Greater Toronto and Toronto Community Housing, the Media Centre, located at 1620 Albion Rd., will use urban media arts programming as a vehicle to engage youth and facilitate the development of their skills and capacities. Still under renovation, the Media Centre will open its doors in June 2007.
As part of site preparations for the opening, Toronto Culture coordinated a mural project for the Media Centre. A mural company, Soulimage, was engaged to mentor the youth to create and paint a site-specific interior mural for the Media Centre.
Maria, age 15 years, and Rodrigo, age 13 years, were selected from the Manga/Pictures and Words Project to be trained in more advanced techniques. As a testament to Maria's and Rodrigo's great work on the Media Centre Mural Project, Soulimage has committed to inviting them to participate in a future mural project.
Precious Gems Project
Neighbourhood: Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park
Partners: The Precious Gems Project; Toronto District School Board
For the past two years, children have participated in art programs at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre through "Precious Gems", a community fundraising project founded by Aileen Hill in collaboration with Toronto Culture. Students, with an avid interest in the arts from Willow Park Junior Public School, were offered the opportunity to attend a specialty arts camp. The program develops the youths' talents and skills in the arts, builds their confidence and skill and gives participants the opportunity to realize their artistic dreams.
Set, Props and Costume Design Program
Partners: Downsview Park Arts Alliance (DPAA), Downsview Park
For three months, young people between 16 and 24 years of age participated in a pre-employment program that enabled them to train in the creation of props, sets and costumes for stage productions. Youth worked with companies of the DPAA and their creative teams to produce props, sets and costumes for four theatrical productions. Through this work, the team gained experience in theatre arts, working in a collaborative creative situation and adjusted to the fast-paced and changing needs of many popular shows. They emerged from the project knowing the satisfaction of producing works that were appreciated by the public and gained greater artistic organizational and cooperative skills.
Shazaam! Comic Book Project
Neighbourhood: Lakeshore area of Etobicoke
Partners: Lakeshore Community Partnership; Toronto District School Board; Lakeshore Arts; Humber College
This story and illustration project offered an open, inclusive method to engage students at Second Street Junior Middle School in drawing, design, and writing. The workshops focused on art techniques, creativity, literacy and communication skills. This project provided an opportunity for young people to develop their artistic and writing talents in a fun and non-academic manner and to be mentored by professionals in the comic book business. Through group dynamics and team building, students developed characters and storylines to contribute to a page in the Shazaam! comic book.
'Through Our Eyes' Photography Project
Partners: Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Toronto Social Development, Finance and Administration, Toronto Public Health, Toronto Community Housing
A group of youth in Rexdale's Jamestown neighbourhood explored their expressive talents with a camera. 'Through Our Eyes' offered youth an opportunity to take the tools of representation into their own hands. The resulting collection of images revealed a unique community consciousness and design sensibility from a focused group of young image makers. The photographs were made into books for the youth.
'Urban Landscapes: The View from Here' Digital Imagery Project
Partners: Toronto District School Board; Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation; Staples Business Depot
Students at Brookview Middle School combined traditional methods of photography with the use of digital cameras and advanced digital software to reflect the building, landscapes and places that form their neighbourhood. The participants discovered digital art, gained experience in teamwork and developed a professional art exhibit. During the project, students learned about many forms of poetry as part of the school curriculum. Their work reflects a variety of styles including: cinquain (both traditional and modern), haiku, concrete, diamonte and free verse. Students experimented with all styles, choosing the form they felt effectively complemented their photographs.
When you look at the combination of words and art, you'll see the participants' artistic reflections on Jane Finch and what the neighbourhood means to them.
'Viewpoints' Photography + Literary Arts Program
Neighbourhoods: Malvern and Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park
Partners: Toronto District School Board; Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation
Students from Lester B. Pearson Collegiate and Robert L. Borden Business & Technical Institute used photography and literary arts to document their everyday life experiences in their community and express their unique thoughts, ideas and concerns. Through the camera and the pen youth found a voice, learned marketable skills and engaged in new experiences.