The beauty and empowerment of a single image
|LOCATION:||Spadina and Baldwin|
|PHOTO BY:||Martin Reis|
|FIELD NOTES:||There is no doubt that this work exudes beauty, confidence and joy. We can’t speak for the artist, we don’t know if this paste-up is intentionally political or, like so much art, a pure celebration of beauty. Regardless of intent, this piece is a political statement. In part because graffiti is by default political and has a history of being a voice for the underrepresented, and in part because, unfortunately, the hijab has become so loaded that the mere image raises controversy.
We don’t want to give credence to the incidents of racism and intolerance that have been reported en masse these past two weeks. But we do want to stand up and say that this is our Toronto. It is beautiful and joyful and confident and political. Though many of us fear the uncertainty of a new political climate, and some ne’er–do–wells are preying on that fear, we need to remember that we are surrounded by constructive actions. We have the power to create positive change. Even, or especially, with the simple image of a woman in a hijab happily peeking out from behind flowers and butterflies.