Drawing on our extensive experience supporting youth-led projects, STEPS has developed the award-winning Emerging ARTivist Program, through which we challenge young people to think critically about the city and their role in making it a more vibrant place.
This workshop and leadership program, which has been facilitated in both community and school settings, has resulted in several large-scale art installations, as well as the launch of youth-led arts collectives across some of Toronto’s most under-served communities.
In collaboration with leading interdisciplinary artists, participants tackle the questions of:
• What is public space, and why is it necessary?
• What makes a public space great?
• How can public spaces contribute to community life?
• What role can I play in creating a vibrant community?
While programming can be adapted to accommodate a variety of settings, age groups, artistic media, and learning objectives, the following provides a sample of some of our offerings.
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A Better Walk Home
Participants visualize how they pass from Point A to Point B on a map that highlights the parts of their community such as roads, parks, retail, commercial, industrial, residential buildings, libraries, community and recreation centres, trails, and more. Participants plot their route on getting safely home (Point B). Participants will learn about how spaces can be made safer and more engaging through public art that incorporate environmental design, urban planning and green design.
Trash or Treasure?
Participants explore their environment and the materials found in it, as a way of reconsidering what is possible from locally sourced resources. Drawing inspiration in part from a community that includes facilitated sensory experiences (that encourage shifting perceptions of the urban environment and what constitutes “waste”), as well as a locally sourced material scavenger hunt, participants create collages that explore local sustainability issues.
Grade 3 and up.
Graffiti and Great Cities
This workshop uses elements of street art to engage participants in meaningful discussion around ownership and beautification of public spaces. After a community-walk, during which photos of area public spaces seen as potential sites for revitalization. Participants recreate graffiti renderings that are superimposed on the photos re-imagining the spaces they pass on a daily basis, and their role in making local change possible.
Grades 4 and up, as well as Adult Learners.
Community Design Cafes
Imagine a cultural and community celebration in a community or school space, to celebrate shared community assets of that neighbourhood. Participants and co-facilitators draw the environmental and community features that are important to them on a community map and share messages, quotes and ideas of ways they will contribute to conservation, and why they think that this is important.
Grade 5 and up.
Urban Sculpture Making
In this workshop students make a group sculpture, and explore issues of infrastructure, transportation, waste management, water conservation and walkable, people friendly cities. By using natural and upcycled materials students go on a creative journey of making a sculpture that visually represents an environmental issue and how they respond to that issue.
Grades 5 and up, as well as Adult Learners.
Honouring Lost Farms
Participants create artwork that critically responds to what it means to be a “Lost Farm” that no longer exists. Participants will work together in groups or independently to create a Eulogy that pays respects to a farm that has been lost in Southern Ontario. The Eulogy can be in the form of visual art, spoken word, song, dance or other performance.
Grade 5 and up.
Participants learn how to make eco-art for a community space, while creatively engaging with environmental and social issues within a natural setting. Participants learn about community planning, collective decision-making and urban design through the creation of concept plans and visual renderings of their proposed public space.
In this workshop, participants are provided with a forum to brainstorm how local public spaces can be improved upon while engaging with other issues of sustainability. Through a community walk, participants identify local spaces that are welcoming, and those that are not. Using locally sourced salvaged materials, they design innovative artworks for public spaces that were deemed “unwelcoming”.
Grade 4 and up, and adult learners.
Willow Wind Chimes
Creating wind chimes out of natural and recyclable materials, students engage with the wind and their outdoor surroundings in their school or community space, participants deepen their senses, and observational skills, as well as public art making skills in a community setting. The wind chimes will be put on public display within the school.
Through a series of group activities, participants generate ideas on what sustainability means to them and develop visual representations of those concepts. After learning about stencil art, participants apply these stencils in an indoor or outdoor public space. This process serves as a reminder of the impact that the local community has on the natural and built environment.
Sustainable Art Tour
Through visiting creative communal spaces, students draw upon inspiration to create an eco-art project that helps them and the public to learn about nature and environmental sustainability. Students learn about sustainable art and design practices and the role of the Artist in making eco-friendly public spaces. The workshop will offer fresh perspectives on sustainable practices that they can apply at home and school; as well as challenge their assumptions about community spaces and places.
Craft Care for Creative Communities
The workshop begins with presentation about the urban cityscape enabling participants to visualize and create their ideal apartment building. Through upcycling and reusing old fabrics and textiles, students learn how to make a group quilt that reflects on how their ideal community would be. Their quilt will contain writing, images and inspirational words sown into the reused textiles/fabrics.
Students will explore the cultural, natural history and ecological context of nearby sites (parks, community meeting places, parkettes, gardens, etc). Students are provided with a reflection journal and asked to use ALL their possible senses to document what they experience in that setting. They will record these observations in their journals – a space for written and visual reflection, in addition to problem solving or critical thinking.
Grade 2 and up.
Community Arts Facilitation
STEPS engages participants of all ages in the creation of new public artwork tailored for your community or school setting.
Programming can be adapted to accommodate a variety of settings, age groups, artistic media, and learning objectives. Find out how we can support your programmatic or curricula goals: