Have a seat
Lounging lakeside to take in the sunset shouldn’t be an activity just reserved for summer. In fact, in the Bronte area of Oakville, it can be enjoyed all winter long, thanks to a partnership between Sheridan students and the Bronte Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Scattered throughout parks and sidewalks of the popular Bronte area – a shopping district that rests along the shores of Lake Ontario – you’ll find 100 Muskoka chairs colourfully adorned with the work of local artists – including 25 designed and painted by students from Sheridan’s Honours Bachelor of Craft and Design, Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry, and Bachelor of Illustration programs. Over the course of just a few weeks this fall, the students created the designs and the artwork, transforming the iconic dockside loungers into canvases adorned with strawberry fields, campfires, sunsets and even one with a comic-book feel.
It’s all part of the At Home in Bronte: Winter Edition exhibit, organized by the Bronte BIA. Executive Director Maureen Healey says, compared to the 2020 edition, the students’ work has helped double the number of chairs on display this year.
“During the pandemic, connecting in-person outdoors and shopping local have proved to be two important ways we can support each other and our communities,” she says. “Thanks to Sheridan students, we’ve been able to create more inviting and safe spaces for everyone visiting us this winter to enjoy those activities.”
“Thanks to Sheridan students, we’ve been able to create more inviting and safe spaces for everyone visiting us this winter.”– Maureen Healey, Executive Director, Bronte BIA.
Second-year Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry student Taylor Blais designed and created a chair inspired by Victorian wallpaper motifs. She says it was a good way to practise her scenic-painting skills, but it was also important to be connected to something that is having impact in the wider community. “It’s so rewarding to be a part of such a large art project,” she says.
After almost two years of limited social contact during the pandemic, Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry Program Coordinator Sarah Zeilstra says the project proved to be an important chance for her students to build community with each other again.
“These students have been through so much the last two years. I’m so impressed with the way they stepped up,” she says. “Our students are committed to helping each other, and it was good to see them building on that strength in this project.”
Alex Edwards, also a second-year student in Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry, helped Zeilstra coordinate the project. Edwards says everyone worked hard under tight timelines – most of the painting was completed during the Fall Reading Week, but it paid off to see the artwork out on the streets. “It was so nice to see the final product. Everyone had such unique designs and worked so hard, it made all the effort worth it.”
The chairs will be on display until March 2022, when they’ll be donated to community groups or auctioned in support of Art House, a non-profit organization in Halton that provides free arts programs for children, and which partnered to help create the art installation.
Pictured top-left and bottom-right: Chairs designed and painted by Sheridan students, now on display in Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park. Middle-right: Finished chairs awaiting transport to the Bronte area of Oakville. Middle-left: Taylor Blais’ Victorian-wallpaper inspired chair.
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