8 Murals by Black Street Artists in Toronto
Published: February 3, 2022
There’s no doubt Toronto is a city full of vibrant street art. During Black History Month, Metrolinx is celebrating the Black community’s creative excellence within Toronto’s incredible public spaces. As Black History Month each February serves as a time of reflection, education, and celebration, we’re shining the spotlight on eight murals by Black artists who are using their talents to tell their stories and share their creative vision with the people of Toronto.
Whether you’re looking for a safe outdoor activity while walking the dog or taking a virtual break while working at home, here are eight of Toronto’s best street art murals by talented Black artists that are worth checking out.
As always, be sure to check the latest COVID restrictions and recommendations before heading out and exploring.
Metrolinx Honouring Canada's First Lady Of The Blues
During Black History Month, Metrolinx is honouring influential Toronto blues artist and music legend, Salome Bey. Dubbed “Canada’s First Lady Of The Blues”, Bey’s creative excellence will be recognized with a visual arts installation at Union Station’s Bay Concourse, Canada’s busiest transit hub. As well, her image will be used on a GO Transit Bus that will travel the Greater Golden Horseshoe in the month of February. The impressive art display was created by Toronto artist Mark Stoddart commissioned by Metrolinx.
Celebrating Black Queerness
A multi-disciplinary muralist and artist, Curtia Wright’s works celebrate Black culture -- especially Black women. With several stunning pieces found around the city, one of Wright’s must-sees is the joyful and colourful tribute to Black Queer femmes located at 529 Oakwood Avenue. Honouring the historical importance of the Black Queer community, Wright’s stunning mural also reflects on themes of self-identity and celebrates Black beauty, inside and out.
Afro-Futurism Draws In The Past
A photographic artist, Toronto-based Adeyemi Adegbesan’s (aka Yung Yemi) breathtaking works comment on Black identity and Black excellence. Drawing on the idea of Blackness from pre-colonial times to present day, Adegbesan’s striking creations are Afro-futuristic portraits that inspire reflection and imagination. But it’s not just Torontonians that are celebrating the artist’s work – his portraits can be seen in Usher’s music video “Don’t Waste My Time”.
A mural by Phillip Saunders will likely stop you in your tracks! The multidisciplinary artist and muralist’s works most often feature a human face that captivates viewers through his use of colour and abstract patterns guaranteed to brighten any mood. The mosaic-like “Love Is There” is one of Saunders’ must-see murals is part of a themed series located in Kensington Market on Augusta Avenue – a short ride on the local subway and bus from UP Express Union Station.
The Queen Of Colour
Dubbed the “Queen of Colour”, multimedia artist Jacquie Comrie’s bright and bold palette will bring a smile to your face, even in the heart of winter. An exciting artist whose dynamic body of work employs a conscious use of colour for mental health and wellbeing, Comrie’s large-scale colourful murals have brightened up walls in and around Toronto, and have even adorned a TTC streetcar!
Reggae Lane In Little Jamaica
Get immersed in Toronto’s Caribbean history with a visit to Reggae Lane. Here, reggae greats are honoured on a 1200 square-foot mural in the city’s Little Jamaica neighbourhood – a quick transfer and ride on TTC bus from UP Express Bloor Station or UP Express Weston Station. Running parallel to Eglinton Avenue West at Oakwood Avenue, artist Adrian Hayles celebrates Toronto’s major Caribbean cultural hub born out of the wave of West Indian immigrants who flocked to the area – in fact, the world famous Caribana (now named the Toronto Caribbean Carnival) first got its start here. The impressive mural pays tribute to legendary reggae artists including Leroy Sibbles of the Heptones, the Cougars, Ernie Smith, and Stranger Cole, among others, as well as the recording studios, record shops, and live music venues that dotted this vibrant Toronto neighbourhood in the 1960s and 1970s. You’ll also find more of Hayles work celebrating the Black community around the city.
All Power To The People
In 2020, the area in and around Toronto’s famous Graffiti Alley transformed with the “Paint The City Black” project, a peaceful protest organized by Toronto street artist Jessey “Phade” Pacho and dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement. More than 40 artists and collaborators used their art to speak out against anti-Black racism and police brutality in the hopes of provoking change within the local community. You’ll still find murals by some of the project collaborators - including the “Power To The People” mural by Phade and fellow artist Bubz - in and around Graffiti Alley off Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West, a 25-minute walk from UP Express Union Station – making it a key stop to check out during Black History Month.
Black Lives Matter
You’ll find artist Elicser Elliot’s works in some of Toronto’s most popular street art locales like Graffiti Alley and Underpass Park where his design covers one of the urban park’s 50 concrete overpass columns. Elsewhere in the city in Kensington Market, Elliot captured the mood of 2020 with a powerful mural depicting police brutality against Black men. In an image that speaks a thousand words, the work draws attention to allies, bystanders, and anxieties of the Black Lives Matter protests around the world.