Celebrate Toronto unites all generations on city’s 184th birthday

Published On March 8, 2018 | By amychen | Arts

Artist Summer Leigh from EnvisionTO at the outdoor Celebrate Toronto event at city hall during the weekend. (Amy Chen)

Amy Chen

Toronto celebrated its 184th anniversary with an explosion of artwork at Nathan Phillips Square this week.

The event was hosted by Celebrate Toronto, which worked together with talented artists including Shannon Blair and Summer Leigh.

Artist Shannon Blair from The Unicorn Studios at the Celebrate Toronto event at city hall. (Amy Chen)

Blair’s booth featured her abstract artwork, which she says transforms existential thoughts into tangible artwork that people can contemplate about and proudly hang on their wall.

“It’s all what I call ‘conversations with the universe,’ so it’s very much a cathartic process of creating something beautiful out of anything,” she said.

Leigh is an artist at EnvisionTO, an art project that is applying Toronto’s history into 3-D, who exhibited a virtual reality experience of Toronto’s past, present and future.

Torontonians scanned a Quick Response code on their phones, then placed their phones into a red virtual reality headset and looked around the landscape. The audience was then able to “time travel” to either the past or future by staring into a portal within the virtual reality world.

Those worlds consisted of small wooden boats in the Great Lakes in the city’s early history to hovercrafts scurrying around the city, reminiscent of the busy flying vehicles from Star Wars.

Leigh has a passion for Toronto’s history that was only highlighted by her knowledge beyond the city’s 184 years.

“For me, when we’re looking back at the past, Toronto is over 10,000 years old. There’s a history long past 184 here, and that’s something for us that’s really important to show,” she said.

To Leigh, Canada 150 was a great opportunity for people to pause and think about the next 150 years, and to reflect upon the past and present, her art exhibit has the same goal about the future.

Multiculturalism in Toronto is no mere vision, as people from all parts of the world inhabit it and have fallen in love with the city. Even simple pleasures like skating in Nathan Phillips Square saw no end in the number of skaters, laughter and families who wanted to capture each and every moment.

Mariana Pinto celebrating Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square. (Amy Chen)

“Toronto has really welcomed us,” said visitor Mariana Pinto. “We’re not Canadian — we’re from Brazil, me and my family and friends. And it’s really nice that we came come and be part of Toronto’s history.

“Every time I come here, it’s a new experience, a new memory,” she said.

Meanwhile, Laurel Astridge, who went on the outdoor rink for the first time in a long while, loved how the city’s attractions like the CN Tower and the Square allowed her to easily catch up with her friends.

“It’s a celebration of diversity and a place I call home,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *