Spotlight

Unveils public art to commemorate abolitionist figure Joshua Glover

@ Lina D Costa
Mayor John Tory unveiled a new public art sculpture to commemorate abolitionist figure Joshua Glover, entitled Step Forward Into History, by Quentin VerCetty, a Black artist, storyteller and educator who was born and raised in Rexdale.
The Mayor was joined by VerCetty, Joel Winter, past President of the Etobicoke Historical Society, the local group that initiated the idea to recognize a notable local Black resident, Liza Chalaidopoulos, Chair of the Heritage Toronto Board of Directors, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee, and local Councillor and Deputy Mayor Stephen Holyday (Etobicoke Centre) at Joshua Glover Park.
Glover arrived in Canada in 1854 via the Underground Railroad after escaping slavery in the United States. After settling in Lambton Mills, Etobicoke, he was employed at Montgomery’s Inn, now a Toronto History Museum, and his story helped to propel the abolitionist movement.
The new Joshua Glover Park, where the sculpture is located, is a City park in the final stages of construction as part of the Kingsway by the River development. The Etobicoke Historical Society was instrumental in the naming of the park.
VerCetty’s sculpture draws on composite events of Glover’s life through the lens of Afrofuturism. He depicts Glover as a charismatic Victorian gentleman who gazes confidently into the future while throwing away the crushing chains of slavery with his mutilated cyborg arm. Glover clutches his freedom papers and books to his chest recognizing that knowledge will set him free and provide the power and spiritual endurance to overcome past indignities and sufferings.
Adjacent to the artwork, a Heritage Toronto plaque will provide rich, historical context about Glover’s journey to Canada and freedom, and a forthcoming plaque with a QR code will allow citizens to learn more about the artist and engage in an interactive augmented reality experience.
Through a competitive process, VerCetty’s winning proposal was selected unanimously by a panel comprised of David Chinyama, artist, Julie Crooks, Curator of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Neil Park, Board member of the Etobicoke Historical Society, Gaëtane Verna, Director of the Power Plant, and Tim Whiten, artist and Professor Emeritus at York University.
VerCetty is an award-winning visual storyteller, art educator and graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design University. His work uses Afrofuturism to address issues of representation, immigration and decolonization and has been featured in countries such as Mexico, Haiti, Peru, Australia, United Arab Empire and Germany. Through his work he hopes to engage minds and inspire hearts to help to make the world a better place.
The creation of the Joshua Glover Park and Public Art Memorial aligns with the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Action Plan and specifically the recommendation to increase the visibility of Black history in Toronto.

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