Parks Planning meets virtual reality in children and youth exhibit at Supercrawl

Local children and youth are showcasing their collective imaginations through an environmentally-themed virtual reality art exhibition this fall.

Centered in Supercrawl’s Family Zone, the installation celebrates the 2019 edition of Artasia, an annual arts initiative for children created by Culture for Kids in the Arts [CKA].

Throughout the summer, CKA staff engaged over 500 area children and youth in 20 neighbourhoods with weekly programming and lesson delivery to empower civic engagement among our youngest citizens.

By integrating creativity and community, the construction of the aptly titled #ArtPark has gathered contributions from many neighbourhoods. Launching during the 11th edition of Supercrawl (September 14-15), the installation welcomes visitors via an Oculus Quest VR headset into a world of landscapes, insects and creatures – real and fantastical – carrying the voices of children with underlying themes of parks planning.

Development of the #ArtPark has blossomed in partnership with a research team at McMaster University led by Dr. David Harris Smith. “Collaboration with CKA allows us to bring our new media research in the field of virtual cities to arts practice for youth in the Hamilton region,” said Smith, whose Virtual Hamilton project focuses on participatory urban planning and virtual cities.

Further valuable input from Environment Hamilton around local plant species and pollinators has similarly aligned with CKA’s community arts approach.

Generously funded by Canada Summer Jobs and HWDSB Focus on Youth, a dynamic Artasia staff of 16 emerging artists and cultural workers mentored by practising artists and experienced arts educators are collaborating with children and youth to launch the VR #ArtPark.

During a visit with the Artasia team, Liberal MP Filomena Tassi said, “When you let people be the best they can be and have experiences that they are passionate about, everybody benefits,” adding, “this opportunity is so good, because it’s exactly what communities in this country need.”

This installation underscores an already festive year, adding enthusiasm to a “20 years young” anniversary campaign, marking two decades of CKA’s work in Hamilton. CKA is proud to serve communities in Canada with accessible arts programming, and looks forward to your ongoing support (virtual or otherwise) in the coming years.

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