Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Completion date: 2021
STEPS Public Art
Toronto Transit Commission
Safe Flight Home is a community-based public art project led by the STEPS Initiative, that offered free participatory arts workshops for community members of all ages, resulting in a public art exhibition that was launched in Spring 2021. We were joined by project partner, FLAP Canada, a global leader in protecting birds from the hazards of our urban environment, to learn more about how we can best protect migratory birds in our community. Participants learned mark-making techniques as they work alongside Lead Artist, Fatspatrol, exploring themes of local bird species, migration and life cycles, while fostering understanding and community connections. The work generated during these online workshops was digitally collaged and turned into several temporary vinyl murals that reflect the community and protect select TTC Subway stations in North York against bird collisions.
Safe Flight Home engaged community members in three ways. The first is through education; our workshops and community engagement sessions acted as a platform to inform, discuss and ideate. Connecting the project with the fall migration allowed participants and those connected through our engagement sessions an opportunity to better see the impact of their project involvement. The second was through a series of low-barrier, intergenerational arts workshops offering community members a chance to connect, learn a variety of art processes and techniques from Lead Artist Fats Patrol, and co-create twenty (20) vinyl murals installed throughout their community. The third engagement opportunity of Safe Flight Home was targeted towards youth (14-29), offering mentorship opportunities, including skill and capacity-building in each Phase of the project.
Safe Flight Home has been reimagined not only to comply with Toronto Public Health Guidelines as they continue to shift and change at a moment’s notice due to the COVID 19 Pandemic but to also best reflect the needs and realities of communities across North York to ensure full participation and inclusion as part of this community-engaged project.
Our in-person community engagement and scheduled activities were moved to an online platform, building a safer, intentional space for the community to connect through Zoom in creative and meaningful ways with Fatspatrol and FLAP Canada. These sessions were open to all individuals across North York, with space held for the d/Deaf and Disabled community by offering accessibility supports including ASL interpretation and live captioning.
Participants were provided with all the materials they needed for the workshops by having an art material kit brought to their doorstep through contactless delivery. STEPS communicated with participants through email and phone calls to provide information, updates, and support every step of the way.
In collaboration with 50+ community members, the artworks that were produced in the homes of workshop participants transformed three Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway stations in Fall 2021 through large-scale vinyl and bird-safe window murals in time for bird migration season. In collaboration with Seneca 360, animation and augmented reality (AR) components will breathe more life into the one-of-a-kind art pieces. “We do not have a lot of public art projects that evolve within the communities and have social interactions – that is very important.” – Fatspatrol, Lead Artist “Public art provides a unique way to engage and connect people with songbird conservation and the bird-window collision issue, and transform built spaces into safer places for migratory birds,” – Michael Mesure, FLAP Canada’s Executive Director “Having recently moved to North York, I was interested in trying to find activities within the community. This program was such a wonderful introduction to the neighbourhood but also back to the joys of making art.” – Nicole Pacampara, Workshop Participant This project had: 1 Lead artist 5 Co-creation workshops 50+ Community participants 3 Transformed subway stations 1 Animation components 1 AR component in the works Seen by 54,000+ TTC riders daily