Creating Community visits Toronto

Do you have a passion for street art? Do you love viewing different kinds of art but not making it? Do you want to be a part of the Atlanta art community? Then, you should consider joining Creating Community, a program founded on expanding student artistic views.

This program’s students recently returned from their first international trip to Toronto, Canada. The program, which was started by art teacher Benjamin Steele and English teacher Sabrina Johnson, encourages students to join and experience the art communities in Atlanta and beyond. They focus on getting to know a community through its artists and artwork. They recently visited Toronto to attend Le Nuit Blanche, an art show that occurs once a year. This year’s theme was “Many Possible Futures” and there were 85 different projects on display. The famous all-night show focuses on local pieces of art as well as those from international artists. The show contains work in many different art media, including graffiti art, sculpture, photography, and painting.

Creating Community chose to attend this famous art show in particular because in previous years they have attended the similar Atlanta art show Flux, which is inspired by Le Nuit Blanche. Flux presents a variety of local and international art in its annual showcase. Though sometimes illegal, street art is becoming increasingly popular and relevant to art culture, with artists like Banksy gaining notable fame around the globe. Street art and graffiti is a very prevalent form of expression around Atlanta, with many examples being found in the Old Fourth Ward and on the Atlanta Beltline.

For the remainder of their trip, Creating Community visited local museums and toured the University of Toronto and its gallery. They saw a vast amount of art on their trip, from the alternative street art in Le Nuit Blanche to contemporary pieces in the many museums they visited. Museums that they visited include the Aga Kahn Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Bata Shoe Museum.

The members of Creating Community view many types of street art and graffiti instead of classical museum pieces.  The club focuses of viewing art in the real world and understanding what it reflects about the artist as well as the society as a whole.

Upper School art teacher Pamela Martinez has been helping with the program for three years and accompanied them to Toronto.

“I wanted to get to know Atlanta, and it seemed like the perfect way to get to know the city,”  said Martinez on deciding to help Creating Community. “The club is about getting out to see public art and public spaces.”

She says her favorite part of being in the program part thus far has been seeing art in public spaces outside of the art gallery setting.

Senior Presley Bird, who joined the program in her junior year, recommends it even to students not interested in making art, not experienced with art, or doubtful that they would get in. In her opinion the program is more about getting to know the art world than the art itself.

“Definitely go for it even if you don’t think you are into arts,” said Bird. “You don’t have to be in the art department. Feel free to come out and try it. There’s a lot more to the club than making art. It’s not really about that. It’s about exploring public spaces and looking at art in the Atlanta community. Even just going on the trips is a good time.”

Bird is one of 22 juniors and seniors currently enrolled. If you are interested in joining, the program is only open to juniors and seniors and will require an application to get in. Your applications can be turned in at the end of your sophomore or junior school years so you will have plenty of time to work on your applications.

Though Creative Community is one of many opportunities at Westminster, its unique philosophy and focus on diving head-first into the art world make it a good bet for any student with or without art expertise.