My recent installation titled "Queens and Kings - ReConnected STC" displayed as part of this years Nuit Blanche art exhibition displayed at the Scarborough Town Centre (STC), has received so much positive feedback that discussions and consideration on potentially making this exhibit a permanent feature within STC, has been circulating.
This blog has been created to showcase the wonderful comments I have received thus far, as well as, allow those of you who have seen the exhibit, to share your overall experience at the Nuit Blanche event as well share your comments and thoughts on having my art exhibit a permanent fixture within STC.
All of the positive comments supporting this initiative will be provided to those capable of making this happen so please leave a comment and share this post with others who may have seen the exhibit and shared their experience with you.
Below are a few of the comments that have been received thus far:Scarborough Town Centre was delighted to host Mark Stoddart’s ‘ReConnectedSTC’ installation as a contributor to the 2019 Nuit Blanche exhibit and beyond. The diversity, accomplishment and societal contribution that Mark presents in his work evokes a sense of pride and inclusivity and we were privileged to participate in shining a light on the multicultural mosaic that Scarborough represents. - Lisa Resnic Marketing ManagerGorgeous representations of the people who make up Scarborough today, and told the town center they should become permanent. Freeman added he was “gobsmacked by Stoddart’s beautiful, well-researched vision that celebrates Scarborough heroes,” which also incorporates Scarborough Mirror articles into the artwork on the pedestrian bridge between the town center and the Scarborough Centre Rapid Transit station. - Barry Freeman, chair of the University of Toronto Scarborough’s department of arts, culture, and media.There were stories and photos our reporters and photographers brought to light, focusing on the issues affecting our community and the people who call it home. I'll admit this brought tears to my eyes; tears of joy, and gratitude, that our work was acknowledged with such thoughtful and creative expression. - Georgia Balogiannis is Editor-in-Chief for Metroland Media Toronto.Magical moments are what make special memories. Having seen this exhibit with my photo alongside so many great community contributors was an everlasting memory that my family and I proudly shared. I thank Mark for recognizing the efforts of so many individuals in Scarborough and praise him for his great artistic work !!!! Mark, you rock. - Sam Moncada (SBA Scarborough Basketball )I am so honoured and grateful to @mstoddart68 for featuring me in this dope exhibit paying homage to Scarborough royalty- his artwork is a major and anticipated part of this years #Reconnected #nuitblanche. During my undergrad at UTSC (UofT Scarborough) I gave 5 years to the Scarborough community - mainly through using arts and political education to community build and create a radical activist culture before I co-founded a Black Liberation movement in Toronto. Seeing my face in the entrance of STC is not only surreal but a full circle from all of the work that has been done over the years! Allah bless, thank you to everyone who has showed love and continue to hold me up! More movements to come inshallah. Thank you Mark for seeing me, honouring my heart work and giving me the platform to tell my story amidst the weaponized attacks of white supremacy and misogynoir that attempted to silence and discredit my voice and our truth! Seeing my face honoured in public this way when it was used against me when I shut it down for Black ppl truly is a documentation I honour and hold high and close to me🙏🏾this archive of memory is so powerful thank you 🙏🏾 - Yusra Khogali
“How do you know Mark?” was the first question I was asked by a woman named Patricia who sat at my pub table as both myself and my daughter Japhia Henry sat and quietly ate our wings and nachos at Local 44 Restaurant last Sunday evening. “I don’t!” I replied quietly “I only met him at the Nuit Blanche event which took place a week earlier at Scarborough Town Centre.”
Patricia introduced herself as a friend of Mark’s whom she met in Montreal quite a few years ago and encouraged me to purchase some art pieces from him. I can honestly say the interaction I had with Mark Stoddart was briefer than brief. After rushing across the city to pick up my daughter from her fashion show at the “Life Turns Artist Showcase” at Shy Lounge on October 5, which raised money for the Nia Centre for The Arts, I turned to Japhia and said, “We’re going to Nuit Blanche”.
I’m no stranger to Scarborough Town Centre, my mother worked at one of the big department stores, Simpsons, for over 12 years and as a child, I wandered every corner of that mall which has seen so many stores come and go and multiple renovations over the decades. I’ve never attended a Nuit Blanche event before that night. There was an electric feel of energy to the mall which I’d never experienced before. I was born in downtown Toronto and lived in Scarborough until my parents decided to move to the east end in 1981. So as much as I’m a Torontonian by birth, I’ve felt disconnected from the city in which I was born. This was an opportunity to become re-connected.
As I walked through the mall to Mark’s installation, I bumped into a familiar face, Randall Adjei, who my 11-year-old son Nathaniel had the blessed opportunity to introduce as a speaker to his peers at Maple Ridge Public School this past February. Mark was busy speaking to someone else and we briefly shook hands and I continued my conversation with Randell. As we moved towards Mark’s installation, I was literally taken aback. As I walked through the glass “hall” leading to the Scarborough Civic Centre, I was enveloped by floor to ceiling transparent photographs superimposed onto the newspaper of the Kings and Queens of Scarborough. Somehow, without words, Mark’s art spoke to my soul.
Familiar faces of Wes Williams (aka Maestro Fresh Wes), Dwayne DeRosario, and Kardinal Official stood out the most from Mark’s larger than life art installation. They stood out for me personally because like most people, I follow them on social media, and every morning I check their posts – not to read about their latest record or newest video or the recent TFC sports score. I check their posts to read their words. There isn’t a day or week that goes by that any of these gentlemen haven’t put up a positive post, an encouraging word, or motivational message on each of their respective pages and at all times they stay connected to the GTA.
Although our paths have crossed briefly, they each have left an indelible impression on me and my family. From the “Toronto Caribbean Business Social” I attended with my mother back in 2017 where Mr. Williams was a featured speaker, to a Kiskofreezies “Mr. Freeze Electroice Sport Soccer Skills Camp” that I won for my son Nathaniel this past summer with Mr. DeRosario, and Mark’s ”Reconnected STC After Party” (held to reconnect the attendees of his Nuit Blanche installation) where I shyly introduced myself and my daughter to Mr. Kardinal himself as fans of his music - these pillars of the community are never too tired to connect to the community at large.
Anyone can take a picture or post a selfie of a “celebrity”. Mark’s installation went beyond “just a photograph”. The expression captured in the eyes of each of these Kings (and Queens), was that of humble regality that showed a look into the distance that projected their hopes and dreams for the youth of Toronto. The photos spoke to you as you walked by with the lights glistening through the transparent newsprint – they seemed to say “Read our stories, don’t be fooled by the glitz and glam. Yes, we have made it, but it came with struggle, hard work, and perseverance. If we can make it, you can too. We are you.” It was the most culturally uplifting spiritual event I’ve ever attended and highly recommend everyone to attend.
Personally speaking, it means a lot to see the faces of these amazing people in the mall where I grew up, to see the faces of children of immigrants who have made some of the greatest contributions to Canadian society, by shining their lights on this part of the world. Having five children (3 girls and 2 boys), all of whom were born in Scarborough, it is an example that I hope my future kings and queens will follow and become leaders themselves when they become adults. I’m beyond grateful to have met Mark Stoddart for creating the wonderful installation that I hope will be a permanent fixture in Scarborough Town Centre, and would like to thank him personally for inviting me to his epic event. So the next time someone asks me “How do you know Mark?” My response will be “He is my incredibly talented artistic new friend, and I highly recommend you check out his work”.
By Sharlene Henry