Long Blog 3: Art Inspirations Throughout the Pandemic

‘Creation of Peace’ mural designed and created by @itsmahyar (on Instagram)

After being stormed with nothing but negative news about the fatal effects these events like the pandemic have brought on our lives, I believe it also allowed for us to come together in smaller ways and help us focus on what is most important to us. There have been countless bad things that have come from this past year that have worsened under these circumstances, however, there have also been some rare positive things that have allowed us to stay somewhat sane. Street art in the city, as well as small towns, has encouraged people to go on walks and focus on the good aspects of their physical and mental health, helping people acquire a change of scenery in their normal routine.

In an informative article for the Toronto Star, written by Angelyn Francis, Karon Liu and Gilbert Ngabo in the summer of 2020, they touch upon five influential artists of different mediums that have been carving their way through their pieces around the city. Each of these brilliant creative minds has their own spotlight in the article mentioning some of their personal backgrounds while also explaining their cause and what fuels them to create the enlightening art they do. From street art, galleries and tattoo parlours, Jessey “Phade” Pacho, Jacquie Comrie, Anique Jordan, Brittany Randell and Elicser Elliott have all managed to use their voice through their artwork to stand up for the change they want to see in their city. Creating their art and attracting viewers raises attention to their pieces and the symbolism behind them like Black Lives Matter (BLM), emotional healing, safe spaces for marginalized groups and gentrification. As the pandemic continued forcefully during the time this article was published, it drove the people living in the city of Toronto to go outside, weather and safety permitting, to give these artists and their conversation pieces some new viewing opportunities.

After months of increasing outside exposure in the summer, people were anxious to get out as much as possible as they recognized the benefits it provided, fixing some rather unhealthy quarantine habits. This meant that more Torontonians decided to go on walks, enjoy the fresh air, and try to distract themselves from the current unideal situation still upon them and the outlet of street art entertainment became extremely important. In another article published by the Toronto Star, columnist Brandie Weikle wrote about how the Anzil family had been using adventurous walks around Toronto and hunting for street art to cope with the pandemic restrictions. Published just two months ago, this article explains how Dan Anzil and his 16-year-old daughter created an almost gallery experience by viewing the changing public art in the neighbourhoods around them. These walks had become such a bonding experience for them that they became almost thankful that this had allowed their lives to slow down and spend time with one another, cherishing these special moments.

For me, living just outside of the city, I envied some aspects of the downtown core as my small community did not exactly have powerful or significant street art and definitely not within walking distance; until about a year ago. A local Toronto artist, with the handle ‘itsmahyar’ that developed the Not Art Gallery, created his first mural just down the street from me in June of last year and continues to add to the piece as time goes on. I was immediately overwhelmed by the art and so proud to have it within my community, it is now still one of my favourite spots to include on any walks I take in my neighbourhood, like many others in my community feel. It also made me realize how influential and powerful street art can be, inspiring you with a single glance and the work capturing so much more than just objects. I believe showcasing these pieces helped people in my community, even if just driving by them, recognize the severity of the situation and see the need for change required in our lives.

‘Power Up’ & ‘BOO’- Ignorance is bliss, created by @itsmahyar (on Instagram)

This past year has managed to take the entire world by surprise and change everyone’s life in the most unexpected ways. Events like movements, wildfires, protests, and more, have all shaken the globe amongst the global pandemic that continues to progress and I think everyone has had to adjust in major ways, allowing us to learn and endure major growth. In light of the chaos that continues to take over the media around the world right now, I felt by focusing on something that has helped people in the city throughout the pandemic, this change of pace can hopefully remind readers that their mental health and happiness is a priority, even amidst these unprecedented times. Being able to go out for a walk and spend time with your family will never be as effortless and important as it is right now so as we are all patiently waiting for this horrible thing to be over, let’s try our best to be kind and focus on the little things in our lives that bring us joy.

References

Francis, Angelyn, et al. “Five Black Toronto Artists on Disrupting the Status Quo, Healing and Painting for a Cause.” Thestar.com, 19 July 2020, www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/07/19/five-black-toronto-artists-on-disrupting-the-status-quo-healing-and-painting-for-a-cause.html.

Not Art Gallery, www.notart.ca/.

Weikle, Brandie. “Add Adventure to Your Family Walks with a Little Street Art Appreciation.” Thestar.com, 2 Feb. 2021, www.thestar.com/life/parent/opinion/2021/02/02/add-adventure-to-your-family-walks-with-a-little-street-art-appreciation.html.

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