“We Breathe as One” Mural

The Toronto Emerging ARTivists (TEA), a youth-led arts collective of the STEPS Initiative, and lead Artistic Facilitator Nick Sweetman have poured their hearts into the creation of this community mural. Over the Spring of 2014, the project engaged nearly twenty teens from the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park communities from the production of the work, from its design conception to installation, inspired by the community at large.

This mural, appropriately titled “We Breathe as One”, celebrates the connections amongst the many cultures that reside in this community. The themes captured in its series of floating bubbles—including the community’s cultural diversity, varied landscapes, and rich histories—were collaboratively developed by participating youth artists, and reflect the ways in which they view their community.

The mural was created under the mentorship of celebrated local artist Nick Sweetman and STEPS Initiative staff who ensured that participating youth developed their artistic and leadership capacity to lead future public art projects in their community. Over this period, the group hosted several community painting sessions, during which residents of all ages and backgrounds were encouraged to participate in the creation of the smaller bubbles, visible in the design.

Members of TEA dedicated themselves to the creation of this mural with the intent of igniting communal unity; sending a statement about how art can transform public spaces and ultimately, shining an artistic light on a neighbourhood that embraces diversity. The work’s mobile nature ensures that it can continue to beautify spaces around the community for years to come.

This mural was initially unveiled on May 3rd, 2014, adjacent to the East York Town Centre food court, as a part of National Youth Arts Week – a celebration of youth-led arts across Canada.

This project was made possible by a partnership between the Toronto Emerging ARTivists, the STEPS Initiative and the East York Town Centre. It has been generously supported by the Laidlaw Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Toronto, as well as received in kind contributions from Diasporic Genius.