Mural dreams resurrected for Nunavut and Toronto teens

Seven youths have found a new wall to paint in downtown Toronto after previous building owner pulled out, putting art project in jeopardy.

Project organizers secure a new location after previous building owner pulled out

Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson, of Embassy of Imagination, are hesitant but happy after a Hostelling International location at Church and Adelaide has come forward with a wall to be painted as part of a youth art project. (Lien Yeung/CBC)

The organizers of a mural featuring young artists from Nunavut and Ontario have secured a new wall days after they were unexpectedly told to find a new location.

Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka, the facilitators of the project, put out a call for potential walls after they were told on Sunday the building they were counting on at King Street East and Jarvis Street was not available.

One of print pieces created by Cape Dorset artist Parr Etidloie. The mural will be based on an image he sketched of his grandfather carrying a snowmobile. (Lien Yeung/CBC)
The two co-founders of a youth arts initiative, The Embassy of Imagination, are flying in four high school students from the remote northern community of Cape Dorset to Toronto next week to collaborate with three young local artists. 

Thompson says they received an "amazing" outpouring of support with many people offering potential locations.

Their new location is being supplied by Hostelling International at a building on Church Street and Adelaide Street East.

It's only a block away from their original spot, and it's larger, coming in at nearly 18 metres tall.

After their recent experience, they didn't celebrate immediately even after they confirmed the new location.

"We were still slightly hesitant to give each other high fives," said Thompson, "after you've been given the go-ahead once but had it pulled it from under you."

Cultural handshake

The two organizers raised $60,000 in federal and provincial grants to bring the group of seven young artists together for, what Thompson calls, a "cultural handshake". 

The collaborative mural is based designs of 16-year-old Cape Dorest artist Parr Etidloie.

Moises Frank, a Toronto graffiti artist, is one of seven young artists who will be working on the mural. (CBC)
"I heard some stories about my grandfather carrying a snowmobile and they told me to draw it," said the teenager who was raised in the remote northern community. "And it worked out."

Toronto's Moises Frank will also be a part of the project. 

As a graffiti artist, he wants the visiting teens to experience the creation of highly visible art.

"Just giving them the value and the worth of their own art, seeing it so big is pretty empowering," said Frank.

More information about the project can be found through the The Embassy of Imagination website.


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