As a living legacy project of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, The Pan Am Path will connect Toronto’s trails and create an active-living legacy that will connect over 80km of trails across Toronto and bring together residents, local organizations, artists and businesses. Truly vibrant public spaces that are reflective of those communities along the route (from Hamilton to Oshawa) will be fostered through collaborations with over 100 stakeholders and partners from across the region, including: the health and active living, arts and culture, the environment, civic engagement, and transportation communities, with the physical infrastructure of the Pan Am Path being owned and managed by the City of Toronto.
The STEPS Initiative, an activation partner along an east end stretch of the Pan Am Path that is being curated by East End Arts, have painted benches inspired by textile patterns from Caribbean, North, South, and Central American cultures, as well as the South Asian communities that live in their host community of Thorncliffe Park. These new work provide much needed seating, as well as a spot for stretching and socializing in the Don Valley, while celebrating the storytelling, history, science, math, and art that intersects in textiles from across the globe.
Artists Anjuli Solanki and Carlos Delgado collaborated on this public art project. Solanki is a painter who became interested in weaving and textiles across different cultures and communities after she worked with Musqueam Weavers Debra Sparrow and Vivian Cambell, who were instrumental in reviving this art form in their community. Their focus on a traditionally female art form that integrated math, science, history, and, art inspired her to pay more attention to weaving and textiles, and to find certain cross-cultural parallels between weaving and other art forms – which ultimately inspired the overarching theme for Pan American Patterns. Solanki’s benches were inspired by patterns from Musqueam (North West Coast BC), Ojibwe (Southern Ontario/ Northern USA) and Oaxacan (Southern Mexican) textiles but also South Asian textile designs, making a connection between these different communities and the communities located around the Zone 9 Portion of the path.
Carlos Delgado, born in rural Colombia and now living in Toronto, believes that art can act as a tool to reflect the world around us while simultaneously being part of it. He creates works which bring beauty and vibrancy while allowing the viewer to create a sense of personal connection with the artwork and the space in which it is painted. One of Delgado’s benches is inspired by Colombian sombreros (or “straw hats”) which are widely worn across the nation. In Colombia patterns that appear on sombreros are representative of different regions, and the patterns which form the bench illustrate a range that are present on various sombreros. While the design of the hat is distinctive and identifiable by region, the black and white lines can be found across nearly every region and are characteristic of Colombian headwear. Another one of Delgado’s benches is inspired by a traditional textile pattern used widely by the indigenous people of Colombia on garments like bags, shoes, clothes, and ponchos.