The Art of Appreciation

Street art for frontline heroes: A look at graffiti tributes for frontline workers

Street art has become one of the ways Toronto artists have been able to show their support for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With many barricades and walls put in place to protect the property of stores that have closed down due to the pandemic, graffiti artists have used these blank canvases to express thanks and gratitude to the frontline workers who may potentially see these tributes while going to or leaving work.

Many murals have been made in Toronto, spreading messages of positivity and unity through their illustrations. Most murals have been made on property that has closed down due to being deemed non-essential, while some have been made with businesses that are still open, with their permission. The project is spearheaded by the arts collective Kadence World and Yonge Downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA). All images of these murals can be found on Kadence World’s Instagram page @kadence.world.

Here’s a look at some of the graffiti murals in Toronto and the Instagram usernames of the artists.

“Thank you” by @shinobistudios

In this mural, we see an illustration of a cartoon cat wearing a nurse’s hat with the message “thank you” written inside of a heart.

“Thank you” by @shinobistudios

On a connecting wall, we see cartoon illustrations of what appear to be frontline workers (food service, grocery clerk, and a nurse) next to the message “thank you” drawn in a graffiti style font. This mural is located on Yonge Street, drawn on the barricade covering what was once a Pizza Pizza restaurant. More images of this mural will also be available on the artist’s Instagram page @shinobistudios.

“Together” by @haenahhh

This mural is located on Yonge Street, on the barricades blocking the Elgin Winter Garden Theatre. On this mural, you see social distancing illustrated through the characters drawn. The figures have their shadows drawn, and those shadows come together to make a heart. The piece encourages social distancing and unity during this time.

You can find more pictures of this mural on Haenahhh’s Instagram page @haenahhh.

This mural is located on the walls of the Anndore House Hotel, located on Charles Street. The illustration has the words “hang in there” in a big graffiti style font, with an illustration of a cat playfully hanging onto a clothesline.

Pictures of this mural can be found on the hotel’s Instagram page @theanndorehouse or the Kadence World Instagram page mentioned earlier.

“Home Sweet Home” by @emilymayrose and @haenahhh

This mural is located on the walls of the Annex Food Hall located on Bloor Street. The mural was made with the hopes of using the illustrations to demonstrate what one can do indoors to help pass the time during this lockdown and to demonstrate unity. Illustrations of people doing indoor activities like gardening, painting, or just conversation over the phone are accompanied by drawings of Toronto’s infamous raccoons. More images of this mural will be available on the Kadence World Instagram page.

On the posts made for these murals, the agency asks that those who plan on looking at these murals in-person practice social distancing for their health and safety, as well as the health of those around them.

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