Artefacts: Art – Self-Guided

Three green gears working togetherArtefacts: Art at PARC – Self Guided Learning

Timing: 30 Minutes
Mode: In-class; Online

painting canvas with red, blue, yellow paint splashesHanging on the walls of the Drop-In is art created by PARC members, past and present.  Formal art groups have existed at PARC since the 1990s, but we know that art in various forms was produced at PARC since the very beginning.  Today, the walls of the building are crowded and colourful, adorned with paintings, sketches, and photographs, each a testimony to the significance of self-expression and art at PARC.

Educators and learners can use these components to explore the different ways in which art enriches the lives of PARC members, allowing them to make a personal or political statement about their lives and to express their creativity.

Students can work through this material online or in class in preparation for a discussion or learning activity. Have students use the following themes to guide their viewing of the Art at PARC components:

  • Art as self-expression
  • Art as a political act
  • Art as self-improvement
  • Art as social engagement
  • Community art practices

From very early on, PARC staff and members recognized the importance of art for members’ confidence, self-esteem and social skills. Read this early report on art groups at PARC.  The transcription is available here.


PARC Writing and Art Sampler

Art and art-making are everywhere at PARC. Art is central to PARC’s commitment to fostering social relationships, positive identity and wellbeing. Art at PARC is about inclusion, politics and empowerment. The Making Room Community Arts, in long-term residence in Toronto at PARC, describes itself as “a radically inclusive, multi-disciplinary arts company.”

View the images in this slide show:

  • Head and shoulders of person with moon, stars and tree behing

In addition to art, writing is also central to PARC’s commitment to fostering social relationships, positive identity and wellbeing. The PARC writing group is just one of many social and expressional activities that PARC facilitates, part of a mandate to provide members with opportunities for self-expression and avenues to self-confidence.


Colourful summertime photo taken outside the front of PARC with red canoe alongside building and drummers and musicians in a circle.
Music, art and community at a PARC Pageant

Beginning in 2008, Making Room Community Arts has found a home at PARC under the leadership of artistic director, Michael Burtt. Making Room Community Arts describes itself as “a radically inclusive, multi-disciplinary arts company in long-term residence at the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre. We create celebrations and ceremonies, large and small out of the ground of everyday life.”

Winter photos of whimsical iron bike stand outside the front of PARC
Bike Racks: Function art at PARC

Much of the art produced under the leadership of Burtt helps members situate their personal histories within the history of Parkdale. One example was the Parkdale Pageant and boat launch of June 2012. Hundreds of PARC and community members came together to build a raft and a canoe, and to carry both via a lively parade through the streets of Parkdale to Lake Ontario for launch on the water, thus reclaiming Lake Ontario for the community, for PARC membership, and for Parkdale. The raft project is one of many examples of the ways that the art produced at PARC makes its way back out into the community of Parkdale and beyond. Other PARC-produced art has been printed on mugs or postcards and sold. Another art project saw PARC members help shape Parkdale’s streetscape, when they designed bicycle rack sculptures that were installed by the City of Toronto.