Toronto Union reveals part two of Black Dreams and Aspirations: A free art exhibition exploring the power of dreams

Opening on May 23, Toronto Union reveals part two of Black Dreams and Aspirations, a free, publicly accessible art exhibition co-curated with MakeRoom Inc. and featuring special guest artist Yasin Osman. This exhibit is sponsored by TD Bank Group (TD) and runs until August.

Located in Union’s West Wing, Black Dreams and Aspirations addresses the question: What does it mean to dream while Black?  The second cohort features new work from six artists: Delali Cofie, Sudaneeya (Iman Abbaro), Adetona Omokanye, Rlev (Ridge Levene), Troydel Wallace, and Theodore Walker Robinson, all with inspiring stories.

Theodore Walker Robinson, A Braille Transcription: This piece is a tactile braille transcription of an excerpt of Langston Hughes’ poem "Dreams."  By transcribing this poem and making this public installation accessible to the Blind community, the artist aims to inspire Blind, low vision and visually impaired Black people to never defer their dreams and to treat every idea as a world of ardent possibility that requires sustenance to live and grow. Blind dreams matter. Black Blind dreams matter. 

Delali Cofie, Day Dreaming: Photographed in 2020, this is a portrait of the artist's friend Mansa. Cofie was inspired by his friend's courage and drive to chase his dreams during a time of uncertainty. The portrait captures the strength of the human spirit against the unknown. The style of the photograph is influenced by West African wood carvings, a practice that the artist learned from his father.

Iman Abbaro (Sudaneeya), Danya/Elements: This photograph captures the artist’s cousin in a Sudanese clothing store in Regent Park, in her element and existing freely. In the context of the ongoing war in Sudan, the artist wants this image to serve as a reminder to Sudanese people - and others affected by war - that the freedom we continue to dream of during these times is achievable.

Adetona Omokanye, Gèlè: Gèlè is a traditional head-tie in Yoruba culture. This photograph is an ode to Yoruba women's agency and adventures, both as individuals and as a collective. It is a visual performance of identity, and a call to embrace one's roots with pride.

Ridge Levene, Interconnect: This digital illustration is the artist’s emotional and personal representation of how the Black man manifests his goals through interpersonal reflection. As a young boy the future seems so tangible and exciting, but societal pressures and racial barriers create a disconnect for him. As the Black man grows older and finds new ways to navigate these tribulations, he reflects back to his younger self and has a better sense of how to better bring his dreams to life.

Troydel Wallace, Generational Melody: Inspired by a personal quest to illuminate the intrinsic value of Blackness in Western culture, the gold-style artwork is a poignant metaphor for worth, aspirations, and growth. This piece mirrors the collective aspirations of the African Diaspora to elevate every unique quality that defines us culturally, physically, and spiritually.

"These new pieces further examine how we think about, and interact with, dreaming," said MakeRoom Inc. "They explore how dreams are passed down through cultural and artistic practices, how they evolve, and how they can build a more accessible world. Our capacity to build something new, something better, depends on our ability to dream it and the aspiration to make it a reality. We hope this collection inspires all who see it with the bravery and creativity to dream."

In addition to the group series, special guest artist Yasin Osman’s solo exhibition titled Dreaming in Colour continues to be on display, a poignant exploration of youth and aspiration, featuring striking large scale black & white portraits of young Somali children aged 11 to 16. Accompanying these visuals are narratives detailing their own dreams and aspirations. This collection honours young peoples’ resilience, hope, and untapped potential. This portion of the exhibition is presented in the Oak Room at Union.

“Union remains fervently committed to embodying the diversity of Canadians through our multifaceted programming,” said Syma Shah, Executive Director of Programming. “This vision promotes and applauds creativity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility through our series of free year-round events, spotlighting Toronto’s cultural landscape. We are so excited to launch the second cohort of artists in this exhibition, and breathe new life into the space with the same message.” 

Union, more than a space that Canadians transit through, is also a space-maker for culture and art, and a role model in community investment for accessible public art. Union’s partnership with MakeRoom Inc. was born out of a shared mission to create spaces for local artists that are inclusive and diverse. Union’s commitment to supporting Black artists is a programmatic mandate all year long. 

"I am incredibly proud to see this art exhibit evolve and spotlight the thought-provoking creativity of six more talented artists." Says Michael Armstrong, Vice President, Brand, Sponsorship and North American Brand Management. "At TD, we have a long-standing commitment to supporting arts and culture.  In collaborating with Union Station to make this exhibit happen, we are hoping that consumers will take notice and the art will spark conversation, inspire connections and foster a strong sense of community."

The exhibition is open daily during station operation hours and is located on the ground level in the West Wing and Oak Room. Admission is free. For more information visit torontounion.ca