In the midst of a pandemic, a group of committed staff and students have come together to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous and racialized students. Although the Alternative Tentacle Art Show has showcased the work of the 9 Secondary Alternative Schools West (alt9) students for the past 15 years, this year the focus was placed on student artists who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and racialized. Their individual submission were was then unified into one display by Oasis Skateboard Factory Leadership students and turned into skateboards. The student work is on public display in the windows of X-Space Gallery located at 303 Lansdowne Avenue, Unit 2 from May 12 – May 30. Due to Covid-19, all other student artwork will be exhibited online through our Online Art Show Nothing Escapes the Alternative Tentacle. The art show exhibits work from students from the TDSB’s 9 alternative secondary schools.
The impact of this collaborative project and experience is best described by a student artist and leader who contributed to the design and production of the final display:
“As one of the fifteen contributing student artists of this window display, this skateboard installation has given me the opportunity to feel seen, heard, and worthy. This year’s window display is a statement on giving Black, Indigenous, and racialized youth the chance to have the spotlight. The significance of this public art display is to heighten the voices and showcase the talent of those who have been overlooked by society countless times.
Like the branch stretching across the 9 boards representing hopeful growth, reaching towards future possibility, I believe that alt9 schools have created a place where Black, Indigenous and racialized youth can unapologetically be ourselves and be supported to thrive. With staff who recognize and understand the importance of creating a safe space that invites diversity, alternative schools allow students to express themselves while encouraging others to do the same. It’s extremely important to recognize that there are people that deserve equal opportunities but haven’t been given them due to society’s outdated hierarchies. With this in mind, I encourage everyone, especially those who consider themselves leaders to continue to amplify youth voices. There is no future without change and there is, and always will be, power in diversity.”
- Eunice K, Oasis Skateboard Factory Student Designer
The nine Toronto District School Board Secondary Alternative Schools in the alt9 family of schools are leaders in student-centred education and have been launching pads for many emerging artists and designers in Toronto and beyond.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase students whose voices can be heard through their art. Staff are commended for their efforts in keeping our students engaged and motivated during these challenging times. Take the time to stop in to view the unique window display and check out the online Art Show, The Alternative Tentacle 16.