No March Break for the Art of 35 Etobicoke Grade 9 art students

Khadejah Scott’s Black Crown

There was a funny scene this week at the downtown Artscape Youngplace art gallery/school. This historic building had young students actually clamouring to get inside during March Break – traditionally a time when students will do whatever it takes to not step inside a school for the whole week!

The attraction? An art exhibition showing the works of 35 grade 9 students enrolled at the nearby Etobicoke School of the Arts. (It is a specialized, public arts-academic high school)

Meaningful; inspirational, and often funny. This free show doesn’t fail to please no matter how old you are.

The theme of this year’s exhibition is called Common Object. A painting of a weeping snowman. Wood chip cakes attached to the wall. A Black crown made of combs. The teenage artists brought it all, except the kitchen sink (although Abigail Mintz’s Communal Connection & Distorted Perception has young female dolls dancing on a painted toilet).

Artscape Youngplace, housed in a decommission public school, is a community cultural hub. The classrooms now house arts-related activities including free public art galleries across three floors.

“The  Etobicoke School of the Arts student show is open during the day and until 5 pm every day until March 20, explained Chris Nokes who co-curated the exhibit with fellow instructor Heather Raymount. ” The theme “Common Object” had the students transform (common objects) into meaningful works of art.

“The feature image of the show is by Khadejah Scott, a Black student who chose a black comb and transformed it into a crown, and displayed herself as a Black queen.”

Abigail Mintz’s Communal Connection

“Ever since I can remember, I have loved creating art. Art making transports me to a place where I feel free. For my common object piece, I selected a variety of Black hair combs and created a crown,” explained young artist Khadejah Malaika Scott.  “The crown is a symbol of both Black suffering and Black power. The self-portraits tell some of the stories of the ever connected historical and modern-day Black experience.”

Each of the young artists make a statement about life as they know it in 2023. Rori Philips collected and cleaned 100 tin cans which he nailed on a board. “I make art to vent my emotions but to also cure my boredom, anxiety, sadness, anger, and to heal my spirit. Cans are containers used to hold food for sustenance, just as our emotions, experiences, memories, and thoughts sustain us throughout our lives.”

While at first glance the toilet art piece by Abigail Mintz is a laugh, when you read her raison d’etre, it makes sense in a Grade 9 world. “I wanted to use this object in a way that represented not just a thing, but an environment. This is the environment of a washroom, more specifically girls’ washrooms in schools. A washroom is a place where intimate conversations and experiences occur, a place of solitude and growth. A washroom is so much more than just toilets and tiles, it’s a place of communal connection.