An ambitious, large-scale art installation taking place this week in Toronto, ON, is aiming to beautify urban spaces while drawing attention to the challenges faced by the Great Lakes. Part of a larger series of programs called Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, the Toronto installation will constitute the first freshwater edition of the project.
Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans is sponsored by the PangeaSeed Foundation, and is beginning to collect teams of international artists to complete the mural projects in various locations around the world. The inaugural installation was completed in Napier, New Zealand. The project team had the opportunity to visit local marine ecosystems, learn about the environmental challenges they face from experts, and in turn facilitate educational workshops to teach youth about these issues.
The artists spent time in Napier from March 10-21, and “within the span of 5 days, 35 large-scale public murals were realized throughout Cozumel’s town center, addressing pressing marine environmental issues such as shark finning, overfishing, coastal development, climate change, and coral reef conservation.” The idea behind the murals was to raise awareness among locals and tourists alike about the effects these issues are having on native marine species and ecosystems.
The PangeaSeed Sea Wall project dubs itself ‘artivism’ (and its team members ‘artivists’), believing the project to be as much an educational process as it is an aesthetic one. “We believe that art, design and new media can transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries inspiring positive global change. PangeaSeed collaborates with today’s most influential creative minds to help give the oceans the voice they so desperately need.” To date, the Sea Wall project boasts a team of 300 artivists from 30 countries.
Currently, the artivists have convened in Toronto to complete the second Sea Wall project from June 20-25. They’re hoping their installations “[celebrate] the majesty of the Great Lakes” while “[stimulating] a broader public awareness of the critical issues facing this breath-taking and unique natural resource, containing a staggering 95% of North America’s surface freshwater.”
Seventeen murals are being done by 20 artivists at Queen/Ossington, Queen/Spadina, and the mouth of the Don River. The project team is hoping to draw attention to six major Great Lakes issues (a fitting choice, for a city which now dubs itself ‘The Six’!). They’re listed as disappearing native species; non-point source pollution (i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, oil, grease, salt, sediment); invasive species; atmospheric pollution; polluted beaches; and point-source pollution (effluent from industrial operations).
The murals are due to be completed by tomorrow, June 25. If you’re around in Toronto today, a bike ride will take place from 3 pm to 5pm to tour the murals as they near completion, ending up at the Amsterdam Brew House. If you miss the bike ride, a party will be held at the Amsterdam Brew House to wind up the week and celebrate with the team members. For details, click here.
If you’re not in Toronto this weekend, be sure to visit the murals when you’re in the city. Until the final murals are revealed, sneak peeks of the artistic process can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.