Public Art at NT

Chloe Li


            “WHAT is it!?”, usually accompanied by a flabbergasted expression, is the most common response I got to the question “What do you think of the new public art standing outside our school?”

            Admittedly, the big sheaf of paper covered in signatures on Roehampton is a little hard to make sense of. The huge metal cube standing on metal stilts covered with metallic words on Broadway is even more difficult to make sense of. But rest assured, NT—these are pieces of art. And these pieces of art have been carefully selected for our school, by a jury composed of members of the North Toronto community and visual art experts (including Dr. Elizabeth Legge, a professor of Art History at the University of Toronto).

            The sculpture on Broadway, titled Mindshadows, was created by artist Catherine Widgery specifically to reflect the vivacious spirit of North Toronto. Widgery, who studied art at Yale University, describes the piece as “knowledge and rational thought in provocative combinations”. She was given suggestions of words to place on the sculpture by Mr. Gorenkoff and students at NT. Take one look at some of the words on the sculpture: Spirit, Dream, Legacy, Up …It isn’t hard to figure out why Mindshadows fits at North Toronto.

            Though its connection to NT isn’t hard to figure out, Mindshadows has been met with mixed opinions: the NT student body has reacted with some trepidation, while many staff members believe we are lucky to have public art at all. Zach Brisebois and Samantha Chong-Luke, executives of the NT Art Council, remark: “It’s so grey. It doesn’t inspire because of its lack of colour. The words aren’t very legible.” Emma Carscadden, Grade 12 student and member of Student Council, says, “It takes a while to appreciate, to actually read the words. But it’s still cool because it’s different from what we usually see.” On the other hand, Ms. Marquis, one of our art teachers, believes, “We are incredibly lucky to have public art. How many other schools have art to reflect what happens at the school? It’s unique, beautiful, and speaks to the community.” Mr. Gorenkoff, too, believes that public art fortifies the link between North Toronto and the vibrant community that surrounds it. “The public art is just one example of the many ways that our school is an integral part of the greater North Toronto community,” he adds.

            The piece of public art on Roehampton, called What’s Your Name? by artist Ilan Sandler, is meant, according to Sandler, “[to identify] North Toronto’s students, past and present, by reproducing their proper names and their handwritten signatures”. In addition signatures from NT students, the sculpture will feature the first names of every student who has passed through NT’s doors since its opening in 1912.

            Mindshadows and What’s Your Name? may have made their quiet debut into the North Toronto community already, but NT’s third piece of public art has yet to be unveiled. The last piece of public art at North Toronto will arrive in the form of “energetic and colourful” red and grey glass inserts that will follow the Fibonacci sequence, designed by Toronto-based artist Panya Clark Espinal.

            Keep your eyes open for our public art, NT.