STEPS and D’Andra Montaque of Empress Mane invite the public to the unveiling celebration of Curtia Wright’s new mural Our Crowns!
Toronto, ON – A new 1300 sq ft. mural by Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist, Curtia Wright, and STEPS Public Art in partnership with D’Andra Montaque of Empress Mane, has transformed 529 Oakwood Avenue into a cultural space for community members. This public art is the culmination of The Mane Event, a program series facilitated over the summer of 2022 honouring the importance of hair in Black culture.
The public is invited to the unveiling of Our Crowns on Sunday, October 9, 2022 (12-3 pm) in celebration of the mural recognizing hair as an art form and expression of identity, and the importance of barber shops and salons within the cultural fabric of Little Jamaica.
“Neighbourhoods like Oakwood Village and Little Jamaica are home to many historic Black-owned local barbershops and salons that epitomize the root of our collective identity, our culture and belonging. The Mane Event celebrates oneness and diversity; a significant partner in our movement towards Black liberation and community building alongside allies,” said Dr. Jill Andrew, PhD, MPP Toronto-St. Paul’s, a project supporter alongside the City of Toronto, Empress Mane, The Black Business and Professional Association, Roman’s Care, Reset Community Centre, and Oakwood Village BIA.
Our Crowns highlights the stories of resilience and self-care shared by community members during The Mane Event. “The mural follows the journey of the mother moving from Jamaica to raise her family in Toronto’s Little Jamaica. Hair is used as a conduit to communicate this journey, while the braiding hands on either side of the mother’s head represent community, generational knowledge and support,” shared artist Curtia Wright.
Local entrepreneur D’Andra Montaque reflected that “partnering with STEPS to execute my vision for The Mane Event brings holistic self-care, healing, and tangible skills to the workshops while providing the community with tools they can utilize after this project.”
“People want to see themselves reflected in their communities. As one of Canada’s leading public arts organizations, we have a responsibility to push for increased representation in public spaces. This project exemplifies STEPS commitment to cultivating paid opportunities for equity-deserving artists,” says STEPS’ Executive Director Alexis Kane Speer.
STEPS is a Canadian-based public art organization that fosters dynamic, inclusive and resilient communities through one-of-a-kind art initiatives. The Mane Event is A City of Toronto Cultural Hotspot Signature Project.
Anjuli Solanki, Program Director
416-366-6565 x 4
Photo Credit: Anushay Sheikh
Local Toronto stylists Aisha and Anesia Loobie and TK lead a series of community engagement hair workshops alongside STEPS and D’Andra Montaque, sharing skills to empower creative expression of self with hair as the medium. Documented by Anushay Sheikh and Kyle Jarencio.
Funders and Partners
We are grateful for our community collaborators, Empress Mane, Roman’s N’ Care, Reset Community Centre, Oakwood Village BIA and the Black Business and Professional Association. The Mane Event is A City of Toronto Cultural Hotspot Signature Project.