Community arts initiative, SKETCH, invited guests to its fundraising event to showcase the new Creative-Enterprise Hub. SKETCH (re)Constructed: Finishing Fundraiser featured youth speakers telling their stories of how the arts has had a positive impact on their lives.
Parkdale resident Huda Eldardiry, 26, was one of the youth speakers who led an art-making session as she told her story about how SKETCH changed her life.
The initiative aims to create opportunities for young people between 16 and 29 living homeless and/or marginalized to experience the arts, develop their leadership, self-sufficiency and to cultivate social and environmental change through the arts. Eldardiry believes it’s much more than meets the eye.
“It’s not just for street-involved and marginalized youth. It’s for the community,” she said. “It’s a space where people who don’t know if they have an art practice, they can come and learn – discover what their art practice is. Because at the end of the day, we’re all artists, and it’s just a matter of finding what art form you’re comfortable with.”
Eldardiry led the visual arts workshop at the event. It involved guests drawing several different models posing in front of them on canvas, but with only five seconds per model.
“People think ‘I can’t do this, I’m not an artist,’” Eldardiry said. “But really, when you’re doing this activity the hope is to realize that you are an artist. You have a mind, and there’s some creativity going in there constantly. There’s a beauty in how our minds work, and that, in itself, is an art form.”
Eldardiry is a textile artist. She creates floral designs and prints them on fabric using a method called screen printing, which involves burning a screen and running paint through it to transfer the image onto fabric.
In addition to textiles, Eldardiry writes, paints and does a lot of abstract art. She recalled her first painting and the lengths she went through to do it. Her father declined her initial request to buy paint, so she settled with white paint and a paintbrush.
“I remembered somewhere, people used to make their own paste, so I thought I’d do that,” Eldardiry said. “I raided my mom’s spice cupboard and found food colouring, and I made my own paste and my own paint. It’s things like that I love about art, no one can really tell you no.”
And no one could tell her no as she maintained her interest in art despite her hardships.
Eldardiry heard of SKETCH three years ago from a flyer, but was initially discouraged to joining.
“An acquaintance told I'm not welcome there because they thought SKETCH only engages homeless youth, but I wasn't homeless at the time,” Eldardiry said. “But I have experienced homelessness. The first time I was homeless, I was five years old with my mother, and the second time when I got kicked out at 16, and then again, and again, and again. From 16 until now, I’ve moved over 30 times. I’ve lost homes, I’ve gained homes, I’ve couch-surfed. But I thought, I just won’t bother going.”
After experiencing sexual assault and being terminated from her job, Eldardiry reached a point of mental exhaustion and despair.
“I became terrified of working, I was terrified of working with anyone who is male, or even female,” Eldardiry said. “I was just stuck at home, broken, with a lot of anxiety. I’ve gone through a lot of trials and a lot of hardships in my life, but this was the first time that I was broken.”
Determined to bounce back, Eldardiry thought of her son and decided she needed to be happy and confident, not only for her sake, but for his. After getting support from a close group of people, she applied for the community artist job posting at SKETCH a year ago.
“I thought, now is the time to get away from my anxiety and overcome it and start to heal,” Eldardiry said. “SKETCH has helped me save myself, by embracing who I was at that moment and giving me the tools that I needed at that moment and even now, continuously so that I could feel confident again, love myself again and be happy.”
SKETCH was founded in 1996 by artist Phyllis Novak as a storefront studio on Queen Street West and after 17 years has expanded to the new Creative-Enterprise Hub at the Artscape Youngplace on Shaw Street.
In 2001, SKETCH was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
Thursday’s fundraiser celebrated the hub and while further collecting funds for the initiative. The total amount left to raise is $300,000.
“Infrastructure is necessary,” Novak said. “Spaces and mentorship are critical for young people to work together with the broader enterprise and creative community, to exercise their gifts and participate in creating the kind of inclusive and vibrant world we all want to live in together.”
The spaces in the new Creative-Enterprise Hub have separate studio areas dedicated to specific arts disciplines including: visual arts, crafts, ceramics, textiles, music, recording, creative writing, woodworking, sculpture, digital media, dance and theatre.
For more on SKETCH visit the organization’s website - www.sketch.ca