A Fort Langley artist, who spearheaded the Township’s first rainbow crosswalk, is continuing to promote diversity and inclusivity in the community through art.
Working with more than 400 students from Langley and New Westminster, Elaine-Brewer White has created two mosaic “Benches of Diversity” and gifted them to the Township in support of its arts and cultural services plan.
The eight-foot concrete benches — which were unveiled at Derek Doubleday Arboretum on May 3 — feature hundreds of individual ceramic tiles that students in Grades 6 to 12 painted with self-portraits, and words and images of diversity. Brewer-White and her assistant, Cindy Murphy, then pieced the tiles together to form the two benches.
“Each tile was painstakingly done by these students. Some students only had about an hour and a half, some students worked on it for weeks at a time because it was so important to them to present themselves,”said Brewer-White during the official unveiling ceremony.
“There are kids representing every kind of culture in our community, from beautiful girls with long eyelashes, to kids with rainbows behind them, to girls wearing hijabs. And that is a really powerful statement to me, and that’s what we need to make our community strong. We need to have all these different communities come together and pull each other up, and that’s what Langley is to me.”
Locally, students from R. E. Mountain Secondary, Langley Secondary School and H.D. Stafford Middle School took part.
At Langley Secondary, the students had just one block in their Grade 11/12 ceramics class to create their tiles.
“I think it’s cool that it’s all very individual. You have to do your own self portrait, so it’s cool to see all the faces and pictures (come together),” said Tanya Velikajne, a Grade 12 student who attended the unveiling ceremony.
“I think it’s cool to see everyone’s interpretations of art all in one project together, it shows that it’s diverse,” said Raquel De Leon, a Grade 11 student.
“Everyone had the same project, but we all came out with such different products, and that shows diversity itself,” added Stephanie Gilchrist, a Grade 12 student.
The project was made possible by an anonymous donor, who made a late donation of $5,000 to the GoFundMe campaign for the rainbow crosswalk.
“I’m really impressed with the effort and talent demonstrated by the students, and grateful to Ms. Brewer-White for initiating and undertaking this project,” said Mayor Jack Froese during the ceremony.
“People will see and sit on these benches for years to come, and I hope they will enjoy the artistry, and reflect on diversity and the need for inclusivity and acceptance in our community.”