The Commons: Public Space, Public Art
Jan 22
Jan 31 2021
DesignTO projectexhibition

Working in partnership with SKETCH Working Arts, DesignTO Youth is a community engagement program which offers youth access to creative disciplines and professionals, culminating in a public exhibition of their work. This year, DesignTO Youth focuses on public space and public art. Keen observations and critical conversations about public spaces nurtured the youths’ imagining of ideal futures, and re-imagining of cities, spaces and homes. 

Delivered in the form of a six-week residency program plus DesignTO Festival exhibition, youth artists are given opportunities to engage with and discuss civic issues and public space through tours, talks and workshops. The program offered a guided tour of The Bentway with co-executive director Ilana Altman and Public Space fellow Gelila Mekonnen, an artist talk with Ekow Nimako, a guided tour of Stackt Market with founder Matt Rubinoff and architect Janna Levitt, and an empathy mapping workshop with Ryan Lo from Urban Minds.

Established in 2019, DesignTO Youth is a program that provides youth with access to creative disciplines and professionals. The program works with local artists and designers and community collaborators like schools, non-profit organizations, and community groups that are already actively engaging with youth. 

The 2020 DesignTO Youth program is generously supported by the City of Toronto, Economic Development, and Shopify.


Sol Amarillo is an interdisciplinary person and maker who has had experience as workshop facilitator in different topics such as popular education, theatre of the oppressed, and lino printing. She has also participated as a co-organizer of forums, workshops, and various other cultural and political events. Her artwork skills include printmaking, paint, embroidery, craft making, and amateur hand poke tattooing.

Aidan Dolan (b. 1995, Tkaronto) is a queer arist and design school dropout. Aidan primarily makes text-based drawings, paintings and animations using their phone, markers or gouache.

Pree (they/them) is an artist educator currently based in Tkaronto, originally from Tiohtià:ke. They’re a child of immigrant settlers from Punjab. Pree’s work centres their identity as a queer, non-binary, trans, disabled, fat and racialized individual. They have an interdisciplinary arts practice under the name Sticky Mangos, and co-founded the Non-Binary Colour Collective. Pree’s work has been featured in CBC, Xtra magazine, BlogTO and Salty. Find them on Instagram and Twitter as @Preezilla. Follow their arts practice on Instagram as @StickyMangos. 

Danielle Tullo is a non-binary cyborg artist and chronic homelessness survivor of Toronto, working tirelessly to bring us through the motions of their own challenging feelings, artificially and intelligently, retelling the hardest parts of their story. They take us through their life’s themes of margin-walking, gender roles, co-dependency, toxic relationships and transient lifestyle. Originally practicing art therapeutically, albeit compulsively, Danielle is ever resilient in nature and committed to life-long learning, refining of skills old and new. After years of being confined to street art, and with the support of their community within SKETCH Working Arts, their work transformed into what it is now. Currently, Danielle is domesticated and no longer on the street, ever interested in working within mural art that coats the city. Their endless series of abstract self-portraits, minimalist and impressionistic paintings continue to find a home in the hearts of people everywhere.

Maneesa is a creative residing on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. As a Tamil, gender-queer survivor, their work reflects ancestral history, trauma and healing as it pertains to home and belonging. Maneesa holds a Bachelor in Communications, Art and Technology, minor in Sociology, and Certificate of Social Justice from Simon Fraser University. They’ve published and performed poetry, screened short films, displayed soundscapes, exhibited their art, facilitated workshops and more. Maneesa values resourcing, creative expression and mindful experiences like hiking, painting, kneading and lying on flat surfaces, or critically consuming commodities.

Lana Yuan (born in China, based in Toronto) is a kinetic installation artist. Yuan holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, in the specialist program in Studio Art. She demonstrates her contemplation of accelerated technological development, and how it affects human habitual activities in a big way, by fabricating and reassembling manufactured objects like toys and furniture.

‘The Commons: Public Space, Public Art’ is one of the many exhibitions and window installations happening at stackt market as part of the 2021 DesignTO Festival.


Sol Amarillo, Aidan Dolan, Priya "Pree" Rehal, Danielle Tullo, Maneesa Veeravel, Lana Yuan



Who should visitors contact with questions regarding accessibility?
Sam Thumm
Is this venue accessible by wheelchair or similar mobility devices? This includes access to washrooms and all aspects of programming/events.
Can people get to the venue using accessible transit?
The Commons: Public Space, Public Art
DesignTO Youth visit to The Bentway, artwork by Public Visualization Studio in collaboration with Lilian Leung