ttc art project

New public art project on the TTC raises mental health awareness

North York's Alexander Robinson is one of the featured artists

Starting now until Jan. 16, 2021, passengers riding line 1 of the TTC will have a chance to appreciate some art during their commute. Life on the Line is a project wherein works relating to mental health by 10 different artists are being exhibited across 200 posters to raise awareness for mental health and funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Toronto program, Family Outreach & Response.

Alexander Robinson is one of the 10 participating artists and as a fan of last year’s campaign, describes submitting his application as a “no brainer.”

“I’ve had my struggles with mental health and for a while, I’d been trying to figure out a way to use my art and my platform to spark a dialogue and raise awareness around certain issues and this project has given me the perfect opportunity to do that,” says Robinson.

The piece he submitted is a self-portrait titled “The Fatherless Son,” the central theme of which Robinson explains, is perception.

“It is a piece that asks the question, ‘What do you see when you see me?’ In the painting, I am portrayed with a flower pot for a head and this visual can be interpreted in several ways,” he says. “It is meant to replicate my experience as a Black man who has struggled with mental health and how people might not see my struggles and on top of that, they might not see me. This is a piece that rewards the efforts of the viewer and encourages people not to jump to conclusions with appearances.”

When it comes to the cross section of art and mental health, Robinson notes that simply presenting art in a public space puts it in a position to do a lot when it comes to destigmatizing mental health.

“A lot of the time mental health issues can’t be seen, so it’s very easy to feel like you are alone. Art gives us the ability to create a visual representation of many of these issues that are hard to see and through this representation, people can feel less alone and more seen,” he says. “The more we find ways to place artwork in common everyday spaces, the more it has a chance to impact a larger group of people.”

TTC passengers can catch each of the 10 Life on the Line public art works on the TTC until Jan. 21. A limited edition of 50 prints of each poster will also be available for purchase with 75 per cent of sales donated to CMHA Toronto.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO