Faces of Regent Park (2015)
This permanent public artwork was commissioned by the City of Toronto. The twelve photo-based, mixed-media portraits depict residents from the newly revitalized neighbourhood, which has been transformed from a strictly social housing only neighbourhood, to a mixed use development with an even split of social housing and market rate units. The six double-sided laminated glass panels are each nine feet high by six feet wide and two-and-a-half inches thick and weigh 2000 pounds.
Aesthetically the work combines the familiarity of the human face with the distressed surfaces of aged architecture and infrastructure found in the urban environment. The graffiti tags have been meticulously rendered from actual markings found in the neighbourhood and act as representational signifiers of human presence on our streets, while the patterned effects symbolize the energy of human movement that give our cities their kinetic life. The vibrant and contrasting colours found within the backgrounds create a juxtaposition that helps to frame the black and white portraits, while simultaneously presenting the notion that we all stem from the same colourful tree.
The twelve subjects were not easy to pick. As a cross section, they represent everyone who has, does or will live in Regent Park. Their faces are the welcome home to residents, the hello to local and international visitors to the neighbourhood, and the ever-present gatekeepers who will keep watch over Regent Park and remind us that it is through our differences that we gain strength and through our personal relationships that we create community.