‘Ajax For All’ diversity campaign unveiling art installations in three Ajax parks


Published September 1, 2023 at 4:32 pm

Lyrically Ignited - Audley Recreation Centre

The Town of Ajax and a local campaign to bring inclusiveness, diversity and accessibility to the community has installed three pop-up art exhibits around town to raise awareness and get people talking about equity issues.

Ajax For All (“One Town, One Community”) presents the Diversity X Change Pop-up Exhibits, where the community has a chance to visit three new artworks installed on shipping containers at McLean Community Centre, Audley Recreation Centre and Rotary Park and to learn more about the art, take photos, raise awareness and share thoughts on the themes displayed.

“The (exhibits) are excellent opportunities for the community to raise awareness and learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier. “All three of the art exhibits have different meanings and inspirations behind the pieces, and all are meant to encourage conversations that promote further growth and understanding.”

The primary objective of Diversity X Change is to enhance the knowledge and understanding among the residents of Ajax and neighbouring communities, with a particular focus on promoting civic resiliency, said Ajax For All in a statement. “Our top priority is to ensure that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are at the forefront of our community’s growth and development. By prioritizing these values, we can foster a more vibrant and inclusive environment that benefits everyone in our community.”

The main goal of this campaign, the statement declared, is to “foster a culture of education, engagement and awareness around topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion to promote a more inclusive and welcoming community in Ajax.”

A Mosaic of Brotherhood and Sisterhood – McLean Community Centre

Each artwork will get its moment in the sun, starting with Tassneem Hamed’s Anti-Islamophobia and Community-themed A Mosaic of Brotherhood and Sisterhood installation at the McLean Community Centre on September 12.

Libya-born and Canada-raised, Hamed’s artistic spirit was nurtured by the intriguing intersections of art, science, and culture. When her family relocated to Canada, her initial creative pursuits faced hurdles due to a lack of representation in the art world but her curiosity and fascination for diverse disciplines led her to pursue art, using it as a tool to express thoughts and emotions, transcending cultural and linguistic barriers.

Her art is shaped by her intellectual pursuits of astrophysics and studio art studies at Western University and her identity as a Muslim woman. While she works across multiple mediums, including sculpture, digital art, printmaking, and photography, painting is where she finds her most resonant voice.

‘A Mosaic of Brotherhood and Sisterhood’ unfolds on a vast canvas, capturing the essence of the Quranic verse, “And We made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” The artwork is a swirling tapestry of interconnected human silhouettes, representing diverse tribes and nations. Each silhouette is painted in a myriad of colours, capturing the essence of humanity’s vast spectrum.

Jeff Laine

Next up will a Black Lives Matter & Entertainment-themed installation from Jeff Laine getting its showcase Wednesday, September 13 at the Audley Recreation Centre.

Titled Lyrically Ignited, the artwork sprung from the idea to center the artwork of around musical artists that empower Black people and/or have created works that are considered protest songs toward a social movement, said Laine, who grew up in Port Perry and now lives in Toronto. “As a digital artist, I am inspired by music, constantly having some on in the background while creating art on the computer.”

The artwork is an illustrative collage that blends textures, photographs, illustrations, and icons to showcase song lyrics of empowerment from artists such as Oddisee, Kendrick Lamar, Nina Simone. Gifted and Black Lauryn Hill, The Jewels and Little Simz in a storyline that is a pastiche of different images.

Laine is a graphic artist and creative director with over a decade of experience in the industry. With a French-only background, Jeff relocated to Port Perry as a young teen. Filling the pages of his notebooks with comics and skateboard designs became the language that would help him bridge the anglophone barrier. He continued to high school, excelling in art class and eventually pursuing a Diploma in Graphic Design. Laine has travelled the globe, broadening his palette and capturing real-world inspiration from far-off corners like Hokkaido and Tasmania, launching an art show in Japan, painting murals in multiple Australian cities and help create logos and branding for Fortune 500s and mom-and-pop shops alike.

On Thursday, September 14 the campaign moves to Rotary Park to unveil a Missing Indigenous Women-themed installation is meant to invoke a “sense of danger immediately – something I am confident nearly all the missing Indigenous women have felt,” said the unnamed artist. “For decades, Canada’s high and disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls – resulting in an appalling number of missing and murdered victims – have only recently gained national media attention,” he added.

Indigenous-themed art installation – Rotary Park

The artist grew up around his mother, who was given up for adoption at an early age during the residential school era, and an Algonquian grandmother, which connected him to an “unfortunate history, a current reality, and a family lineage that I have never gotten the chance to explore.”

Indigenous women often go missing on highways, at truck stops, and at night, he added, contributing to his muse for the art. “My inspiration for this art piece is to capture the seclusion and secrecy surrounding their disappearances. The limited colour palate allows for the intensity of the red to draw the viewer’s eye –red itself is often associated with danger.”

Natasha Sharma, the Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator for the Town of Ajax, encourages all residents to visit the artwork installations on display. “These thought-provoking exhibits serve a greater purpose, raising awareness on important diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. By educating through art, we can foster community engagement and create a more inclusive society. The artists behind these works have created something truly impactful, sparking essential conversations that encourage personal growth and understanding.”

For more information, visit https://imo.ajax.ca/dxc

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