“Up to Us”: STEPS’ Tallest Mural in the World covered by Centre for Social Innovation

The Centre for Social Innovation, in collaboration with journalist Sean Liliani, has produced this great 10 minute video on our recent Tallest Mural in the World project!

Over the summer of 2013, this youth-led art installation transformed a 32 story modernist social housing building into a vertical canvas for the world’s tallest mural through the engagement of hundreds of community members.

The mural’s design incorporates the motif of a bird soaring up, emblematic of a phoenix rising, to counter the negative stereotypes associated with St. James Town, alongside designs that represent themes of diversity, accessibility, local culture, safety and happiness weaved into its lower sections. Local artist and 200 Wellesley Street resident, George McIntyre says “I have never seen so many people stop by and look at our building.”

The mural is the culmination of STEPS’ Emerging ARTivist Program, which took place in the community for the year preceding the work’s unveiling in September 2012. Over 50 young people from the St. James Town community and hundreds of community members have been involved in the project in various ways. Internationally renowned artist, Sean Martindale worked with community members of all ages to help develop the mural’s design as the lead artistic facilitator. Dora, a 200 Wellesley tenant who has added her own designs onto the mural, says that it has been a pleasure to take part in this project and be recognized for it by her neighbours, “Everyone who sees my sunflowers tells me how much they like them!” Numerous other residents have shown immeasurable support, saying that the mural is “the best thing that’s happened here,” and that it has given the community a “brand new look.”

This project was funded by the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, with generous contributions from ING Direct, Dulux Paints and the Toronto Muralists.