by Yasmin Parodi
This summer, the Jane St., and Highway 400 underpass underwent a beautiful transformation.
On Aug. 28, The Essencia Arts Collective completed an 8,000 sq. ft., mural dedicated to water, the Earth’s most precious resource.
The project was a massive collaboration between 18 local and international artists, part of the International Essencia Water Festival.
The festival, co-directed by sisters Fiya Bruxa and Shalak Attack included a speakers conference and closing exhibition and concert to bring attention to the need to protect and conserve our water supply.
Bruno Smoky, the artistic co-director said the goal was to use art as a means to spark a conversation about our connection to this most essential compound.
“Without water we don’t exist,” said SkratchWon, an Alberta hip-hop artist who contributed to the mural. “It’s something we need to pay homage to and give respect to, and not take it for granted.”
The mural is located in close proximity to Black Creek and the Humber River, two extremely polluted waterways which flow directly in to Lake Ontario, which provides drinking water to more than 6.3 Million people.
According to Cathrin Winklemann, a project manager for the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, the speed and intensity of the more frequent and intense rainfall we have been receiving due to climate change, has increased the amount pollutants such as garbage, chemicals and oil from city streets in our creeks and rivers and has caused their banks to erode more rapidly.
Shalak said her contribution to the mural shows a mother and baby polar bear walking on drought plagued land caused by climate change.
“This is a prediction of what may come if we continue to put a blind eye to mother Earth,” she said. “We are not above her, we are part of her and must treat her with conscious respect.”
More than 70 local, First Nations and international artists participated in the festival.
For more information on how you can help keep our rivers and lakes clean, please visit trca.on.ca.