The barren brick walls on the exterior of the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse will soon give voice to the immigrant community, to the indigenous history and to the people of Parkdale according to area artist Ilana Divantman.
People’s personal stories of the neighbourhood and how they came to be in Parkdale will lay the framework for a mural, which Divantman will be painting on the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse on Wabash Avenue in Parkdale.
“It’s about connecting people of different backgrounds and with different stories,” Divantman said.
The mural, she said, aims to find a way to relate stories and foster sympathy and compassion among neighbours.
Divantman, who is currently completing her masters at York University in Environmental Studies with a focus on diasporic narratives and public art, has lived in Parkdale for the past seven years and currently lives off Roncesvalles Avenue.
The idea of painting a mural on the fieldhouse has been in the works for about three years, Divantman said.
The project originally grew out of Painting Our Stories, a network of people who support each other in producing murals in the neighbourhood.
That network has since dispersed to work on individual projects and Divantman has taken on planning for the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse mural.
“My interest is in story telling and looking at aboriginal history, so that started me off in the beginning,” Divantman said. “Those stories as well as a lot of stories of migration into the neighbourhood are all really important stories to explain what is going on socially.”
But the timing in 2011/ 2012 wasn’t ideal. Divantman got pregnant and there was an illness in her family and the mural fell by the wayside.
This past fall Divantman reconnected with the Wabash Building Society, the area residents association and City Councillor Gord Perks’ office and she said the interest in the mural was still there.
“I think it was just the right moment because somehow it just picked up pace,” Divantman said.
In 2011 she had applied for a neighbourhood beautification grant, which she received and subsequently got an extension. The mural must now be completed by the summer of 2013.
Divantman is now working to compile stories from the community, which will influence the mural.
“The idea is to do some workshops with people in the community to see what kinds of stories come out of the community,” Divantman said, “and to try to focus on the fact that Toronto is a diverse city but this community is very diverse.”
At workshops community members will share their stories and then see what sort of visuals can grow out of them.
Divantman said she is interested in ensuring a cross of all cultures in the area, from north and south Parkdale are represented in the mural, in particular the indigenous community.
Councillor Perks office will be assisting Divantman with organizing community consultations. Check the Sorauren Park website, http://soraurenpark.wordpress.com, for details of community consultation to be released.