Que Rock is an Anishinaabe artist based in Toronto. A native of Nipissing, Ontario, Que is internationally known as a rapper in all hip-hop and breakdancing media primarily—but is also acknowledged for his street art painting and other art forms. Now we have the opportunity to see first-hand for ourselves what this work means for our new schools and the community.
Currently, Que and his team (including Sadie and his mentor, Alex) are in the process of completing the ninety-metre-long mural, on the south wall of CityPlace Canoe Landing Campus (Jean Lamb Public & Bishop Macdonell Catholic Schools) South Building. The aerosol spray-painted, plastered areas facing the Lake and the Sun’s arc from sunrise to sunset.
In this video interview, Que Rock and CPRA Board president Peter Chiaramonte discuss the artist’s origins, Anishinaabe cultural influences, the meaning of leadership, and the meaning of Rock’s mural emblems. Que takes us on a tour of the project’s landscape from one end to the other. Have a look and see for yourself what it might mean to you.
Here, in these segments, Que reveals the story and regalia behind the mural he tentatively titles,
“Visual Land Acknowledgment”
in symbols of: the medicine wheel; the symbolic wisdom of all living creatures; the spirit within the relationships of essential elements and patterns of nature, and much more. CityPlace Residents’ Association (CPRA) plans to continue working with Que Rock and his crew, and other affiliates of the StreetARToronto (StART) Partnership Program on further, evoking projects of substance.
Que’s 2020 mural invites us to reflect on the culture and history of the landscape beneath our very feet. In addition to the StART program’s showcasing local artists, supporting emerging talent, and creating opportunities for positive engagement among residents, business owners and operators, artists and arts organizations—on a community level—this installment will remain secure on this wall for us to enjoy for no less than the next five years.
Watching the mural’s dancing creatures and bullrushes appear to sway and hum in the breeze. At any time of the season, weather, light of night, hour of day, or mood you find yourself in—there will always be a pure aesthetic pleasure to be had as you stroll, ride, skate, jog, or sprint past. Perhaps casually stopping on occasion to clear a few weeds from impeding our view.
What’s Next for StART Projects in CityPlace?
Had it not been for the pandemic and a temporary suspension of the funding application process, the CPRA Board of Directors would have already submitted their application for 2021 funding projects that support the StART program’s mission to revitalize and engage communities through mural, street, and graffiti. Art that:
- Is innovative in terms of design, delivery and message,
- Is valuable to the community; reflecting neighbourhood identities,
- Fosters expanded partnerships within the arts community,
- Demonstrates community engagement, and most importantly,
- Provides mentorship and training opportunities for youth or emerging artists.
StART murals, for instance, both individually and collectively, are designed to celebrate the City of Toronto motto—Diversity Our Strength—as well as to foster a greater sense of belonging among all residents, including the homeless who may just be passing through.
The Road Mural Program allows residents’ associations (like the CPRA) and local business owner groups to invite mural paintings on City laneways and fences. Mural or street art has also proven to act as a catalyst for these types of neighbourhood improvements.
Examples of StART Programs that May Be Relevant to CityPlace Sites include the StART Underpass Program—for transforming selected underpasses with enhanced lighting, improved sidewalks and walking conditions, pigeon proofing, and the removal of weeds.