An indoor art installation for Nuit Blanche at Toronto’s Msgr. Fraser College highlights the migrant’s journey. Photo courtesy of Donna Sistilli

Art showcases migrant journey at Nuit Blanche

By 
  • October 3, 2017
From darkness into light.

For students at Msgr. Fraser College, that imagery depicts a migrant’s journey to a new land. And it was the central theme of an indoor art installation students created for Toronto’s annual Nuit Blanche all-night festival.

“The installation is how Canada helps the migrant to transform their lives from persecution, war and economic strife,” said Salve Mindanao, a Grade 12 student. “It’s how they transformed their lives and how the people transformed Canada.”

“Passage into the Light” began at the school’s main entrance. To reflect what was described as an experiential interpretation of the Canadian migrant’s experience, migrants were represented by white birds hung at the front of the hallway.

Viewers then rounded a corner to enter a dark passageway, representing the uneasiness of a migrant travelling to the unknown. Finally, viewers emerged into a fully illuminated room to find a display of bird houses decorated with broken glass.

“For us, it’s like a gift for Canada,” said Mindanao.

The exhibit was a collaborative project between Donna Sistilli’s art class and Rita Sarra-Macchiusi’s English class. The two teachers have collaborated on a “team-teaching” project the past 11 years.

“We found that with projects like this, the whole school gets involved in some way,” Sistilli said. “Team-teaching is magical because a community is built between the two classes.”

Some 200 of Toronto’s Catholic schools showcased work that reflected some aspect of Canadian history as part of the Sept. 30 Nuit Blanche festival.

“Each artwork that came in is a beautiful representation of the school or the Canada 150 theme, or a mix of the two,” said Carmelo Cucchi, who organized the board-wide art project.

As TCDSB’s arts resource teacher, Cucchi said he was pleasantly surprised by the creativity demonstrated in the 60-cm tiles. Some schools incorporated photo collages with painting. Others created three-dimensional reliefs. Some tiles told the story of their schools, while others showed the history of their patron saint.

It took about 30 hours to assemble the tiles into large towers. Cucchi had been planning the project for about two years.

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