Art Installation Inspired by “Cursed Child” on Display in Toronto
If we cast our minds back to those early, messy months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can recall a time characterized largely by uncertainty. As social distancing became the new normal, cancellation became a familiar condition. The Wizarding World was no exception to this turn of events. For example, the Toronto production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was delayed until 2021, despite being mere days away from opening ticket sales.
Fast-forwarding to the present day, the pandemic has largely subsided, but left traces. In this case, the evidence manifested in the tangible form of marketing materials that had already been made with the details of the original 2020 premiere date, including 50,000 now-unusable promotional bookmarks. The question, of course, became what to do with them.
Kendra Bator and Denise Anderson, the Associate General Manager and Education, Outreach and Accessibility Manager of Mirvish Productions, respectively, decided that the answer to this predicament was art. They turned to VIBE Arts, an Ontario-based charity that provides no-cost arts education programming to kids, with a request that they create Cursed Child-inspired pieces using the bookmarks. NExT, VIBE Arts’s mentorship program for Black youth artists, took up the challenge with a vengeance.
Four young artists seized the opportunity, as well as the House-specific bookmarks, and did what artists do best: created beauty and meaning with ordinary, and in this case, otherwise wasted, materials. The result was four paper statues that are nothing short of spectacular.
Kanisha Dabreo, who is a multidisciplinary artist, digital designer, and muralist, selected the bookmarks for Ravenclaw House. She chose to represent the Sorting process by creating a depiction of Ravenclaw’s characteristic eagle alighting on a raised wand.
Multidisciplinary Canadian Rwandan artist Janine Ilya is described as drawing on concepts like vulnerability to examine how identity is formed. She took this approach in her piece, titled The Story Lives On & Beyond, to take a fresh look at the character of Harry Potter as we see him in Cursed Child.
Jade Kent-Brewster, who works with mixed media, took on Hufflepuff House in a fresh way. Acknowledging that the badger is its classic representative, Kent-Brewster sought to reframe the qualities of Hufflepuffs in the light of their inner strength, which she depicts as a lion. “I chose to resourcefully re-use [sic] Hufflepuff bookmarks to transform into the lion that lives within those who are looked over as too nice,” the artist explained.
Parseltongue, made up, of course, of Slytherin House-themed bookmarks, was created by Jasmine Vanstone. Vanstone, who is a Jamaican Canadian multidisciplinary artist, facilitator, and arts administrator, often uses her art to speak truths about themes of anti-Black racism, mixed-race identity, mental health and wellness, and environmental justice. She uses this piece, configured as it is out of repurposed materials, to invite her viewers into the magical world of ecological art.
The four statues will be displayed for all to see in the Yonge Street lobby of the CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre from May 30 through June 4. The artists themselves will be attending the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Open House on June 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Are you as stunned by these amazing pieces as we are? Let us know in the comments below.