‘Artistic benches’ celebrate ethnic diversity

You’re invited to relax on several new park benches that celebrate ethnic diversity, one of which honours the many non-English native languages spoken here.

“In my design, the waves flow in layers, like a ripple effect that continuously expands outward,” artist Christie Shen says of the bench at 6240 Main St. “Much like languages and people, Stouffville will continue to develop new layers and evolve, always moving forward.”

Each wave is a sound wave that represents the audio of the same spoken phrase in a different language, she explains. Depending on the length of the chosen phrase, more than 10 of the 84+ languages spoken in Stouffville can be transformed into sinusoid waves (mathematical curves) to illustrate the breadth and variety of languages here.

“My intention is to record audio of the phrase, ‘We belong here’ being spoken in different languages such as Ojibway, Urdu, Cantonese, Tagalog and more,” Shen notes. The bench’s colours align with the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville’s brand to reinforce a sense of belonging and shared values.

Last fall, The Stouffville Chamber of Commerce invited local artists to submit a proposal/design for permanent public art celebrating ethnic diversity. The project was funded by a grant from the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville Legacy Fund. The town donated the benches, which have been installed on Main Street in Stouffville Village.

Four York Region artists were selected. “We were inspired by the fantastic submissions we received for this project and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing these pieces of art take shape,” says Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Wootton. “The finished products add beautiful splashes of colour and artistic flare to the village.”

Artist Marianne Botros’s bench at 6252 Main St. is dedicated to the Egyptian population living in Stouffville. “I found the bench project a great opportunity to promote cultures in a transformative growth among the current living, the past of our ancestors to the future in our children,” she says.

“The bench is designed to welcome the elders (past) who had the chance to build the old town to be ready for the youth (present) and expand for the upcoming generation of children (future). The juxtaposition design is derived from the ancient Egyptian concept of the afterlife,” Botros explains. Several Egyptian families signed their names on the back of the bench.

Sophia Yeh-Chau and Samuel Peter created a set of benches in the Main Street Gazebo that “invites moments of pondering, conversation, reflection and rest,” they say. “We want the bench to reflect the unity of new ideas and wisdom exchanged. After all, the richness resides where there is an open mind and open heart. Like branches in a forest or yarn of a quilt, the vibrant hues are intertwined making a strong core.” Stouffville’s logo inspired the colour selection.


Photos of a few artistic benches by Catarina Petta, courtesy of The Stouffville Chamber of Commerce.

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