When you hear the word ‘school,’ an image emerges in your imagination. It’s likely an image of rules and ringing bells, structure and studying. And when you hear the word ‘art,’ you might conjure art you’ve see at a gallery or adorning the walls of your favourite local coffee hub.
What you probably don’t think of is an alternative timetable, small classes or teachers who have high expectations of their students, but who are on a first-name basis with them. Or art that looks like it could be found in ‘hidden Toronto’ on the side of a building: graffiti art.
At SOLE Alternative School, near Greenwood and Danforth, ‘school’ and ‘art’ came together in unconventional forms for a class of talented and eager senior art students. They met for class once a week for two-and-a-half hours.
Over the course of the fall semester, the SOLE art students worked in a fun, hands-on experimental project that allowed them the freedom to create.
The result: a 60-foot graffiti wall, full of colour, expression and personality. With the guidance of their art teacher and a visiting graffiti professional, three classes collaboratively planned sections of the wall on canvas showcasing their stylized name and character. Students were thrilled to transform a previously dark hallway to a vibrant corridor of art.
Learning about the history of mural and graffiti art and practising can control gave the students confidence to take on such a huge project.
“Before I used to ignore street art. Now I stand and spend time appreciating the talent it must have taken to complete a piece,” said one student.