In the heart of York University’s Keele Campus, a captivating masterpiece stands tall, representing a fusion of traditional visual arts and cutting-edge technology. The “Our Home On Native Land” mural project at York University is a testament to the institution’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of arts education. This remarkable mural, tells a story in a UV layer depicting Jully Black singing the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game 2023, is not just a static work of art (read article) . It’s an immersive experience waiting to be discovered through augmented reality (AR) technology.
The mural titled “Reckonings and Re-Imaginings: Our Home On Native Land” is a collaborative effort by local artists, students, and Congress attendees. Initially, it appears as a celebration of diversity and artistic expression with its vibrant colors and captivating imagery. However, a hidden feature using transparent UV spray paint and varnish reveals an overlaid image of Jully Black singing the Canadian national anthem at the NBA Finals 2023, with altered lyrics emphasizing the need to address racism and injustice in Canada.
The juxtaposition of the bright base mural challenges the notion that racism doesn’t exist in Canada, urging viewers to reconsider their perspectives. The transparent layer, visible when the viewer changes their perspective, symbolizes collective truths and brings attention to the nuanced experiences of Black and Brown communities. The mural encourages genuine reckonings with the past and envisions a more inclusive and just future. Titled in alignment with the Congress 2023 theme, the artwork reflects York University’s commitment to social engagement and the decolonization of arts and education, fostering dialogue and inspiring collective action towards a more equitable society.
Meet the team that initiated this project:
The students from Westview CSS and their teacher, Ana Medeiros. Over a period of three weeks, we collaborated in the ideation process of the mural facilitated by Kayode Brown. The students aimed to make a statement that responds to the injustices in Canada.
Lead Artist: Andre Mandela López is a multidisciplinary visual artist and healing arts educator. Andre has had the pleasure of bringing arts programming to communities all over the GTA for over 10 years, teaching artists of all ages.
Lead Artist: Phillip Saunders is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto, Ontario. His practice includes oil painting, charcoal and graphite drawings, and street art murals. Phillip’s work uses the human face as a means to communicate and remind the viewer of the beauty of their own humanness.