Dundas Street West is looking a little brighter thanks to the work of students at Ryerson Community School.
With the help of artist Javid JAH and support from Scadding Court Community Centre and the Ontario Arts Council, a group of youngsters from the school designed a mural that has been affixed to a fence surrounding the schoolyard.
Grade 7 student Sidney Ventura said the mural-making process gained steam as it went along.
“When it first started, the class was kind of empty, but when (fellow students) saw what we were doing, they started joining in,” she said. “It took a while to settle on one story, but we started to learn about it and it got easier when we worked on it more.”
The students came up with the storyline and drew the images, which were then digitized and printed using Adobe Illustrator.
Ventura noted she had never worked on a project like that, but is thrilled to have her idea on display along Dundas Street West.
“It’s just really joyful to help out the community,” she said.
The work is displayed on 24 panels along Dundas Street and showcases a dream sequence in vivid colours.
“We feel it’s important to animate Dundas Street because this area’s a bit of an eyesore with not much going on,” said Scadding Court executive director Kevin Lee. “Our hope is that this will bring pedestrians into the area from Kensington (Market) and Chinatown.”
While the mural is colourful and surreal, it also features some political undertones. At one point, the boy in the series of images stops a “big box” from cutting down a tree – a fitting metaphor given the nearby community’s opposition to big box retail from being built in the area.
“It’s mostly about having a little colour along Dundas Street, but you can look at it and see it as being about trying to save the natural environment,” JAH said. “The kid’s trying to stop the Big Box and save the bees, who are out of honey.”
Fellow Grade 7 student Joseph Kwon got involved out of a love of art and said the project was rewarding.
“I want people walking by to look at this and think it’s cool,” he said.
Ryerson Community School principal Craig Tsuji was proud of the work done by his students, adding the school is always happy to pitch in to make the community a better place.
He noted that, in addition to adding splashes of colour along Dundas Street West, the mural will hopefully foster a sense of ownership among the young people within the community.
“It’s good to give kids a chance to express themselves, and murals give them a chance to do graffiti art instead of just tagging,” he said. “As long as the kids say positive things in their artwork, it’s a nice thing for the community to look at, and it’s maybe a lesson for adults, too, about staying positive.”
The mural was installed on Thursday, June 26 on a temporary basis until it could be properly treated to ensure it would last through inclement weather. While it was installed facing Dundas, similar panels will soon be installed facing the school so the students can enjoy the artwork as well.