Rio Olympics: How these Toronto artists are making Team Canada feel more at home in Brazil
'It’s a neat connection because things we touched and made with our hands are there,' Spencer Julien says
As Team Canada gets set to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games, they'll have a group of Torontonians to thank for making Rio feel a little more like home.
The official start of the games isn't until Friday, but Canada Olympic House opened its doors Thursday. And for the athletes and their families who will depend on the location for information, hospitality, and a taste of Canada, a select few Toronto artists flew down to Brazil ahead of the games to give the space a special touch.
June Tran is one of them. She grew up watching the games on television but had never been to an Olympic village before.
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Tran is part of Moss & Lam studios where some of the artwork for Canada Olympic House was conceived. She got to help with the installation and see the final product in person earlier this week.
"It's better than I imagined," she told CBC News. "In real life the the impact is way more than when you see a little 3D model on your screen."
Artist Joel Shaffer is another one of the lucky ones. He says he feels a special connection to this year's Olympics having seen his designs go from paper to the real thing.
"It felt so far away while we were here building it and being there and meeting the people and sort of being a part of it made it feel closer to home," he said.
"I can understand how the athletes will feel at home there."
Two of the building's key designs are a 3D ceiling installation of the Canadian flag constructed from hundreds of strips of hanging fabric, and a spiral staircase made up of maple-leaf adorned paddles.
Etobicoke School of the Arts students Krystyna Poremba and Spencer Julien had a chance to help with the designs.
"It's a neat connection because things we touched and made with our hands are there and they're going to be present in a very personal space for the athletes," Julien said.
Poremba agrees, saying she feels privileged to bring her love for art and her connection to Canada together in such a public way.
"To have those two things come together so perfectly and have them be shown to the world… is such a great opportunity," she said.