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Maclaren Art Centre youth show pride

August 21, 2019

Youth from the MacLaren Art Centre’s after-school W-Edge programme used art to convey a powerful message at last Saturday’s Barrie Pride Parade.


MacLaren Education Officer Tyler Durbano with W-Edge youth and supporters Cassity, Piper, Sawyer, Amber and Madison (from left to right). Photo: Sarah Hawley

Making their way through the city’s downtown core with members of the MacLaren Education team, youth showcased a variety of creative projects that celebrate diversity and encourage acceptance in the community. Artwork was created in W-Edge: Showing Pride, a special series of workshops at the MacLaren offered in partnership with the Gilbert Centre last spring.

W-Edge is a free art programme offered throughout the school year that provides like-minded youth ages 14 to 18 with a place to meet and be creative. Practising visual artists lead innovative projects exploring contemporary art and ideas through a variety of engaging materials and techniques.

In the spring session of the programme led by regional artist Sean George, participants discussed and creatively articulated some of the major events and issues that emerged from the social history of the LGBTQ+ community. Artwork honoured and memorialized queer visual artists—some of the trailblazers who paved the way for greater civil liberties and acceptance.

Youth were particularly inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a powerful artwork made to memorialize and celebrate the lives of people who have died of AIDS-related causes. Paying homage to this project, youth stitched their individual canvases together to create a special banner for the Barrie Pride Parade and its efforts to end to LGBTQ2+ victimization and oppression.


Sarjeant driver Charlie Espey and regional artist Sean George with the MacLaren team in front of a Sarjeant Company Design Project truck. Photo: Sarah Hawley

Central to the display was a Sarjeant truck baring artwork from the Sarjeant Company Design Project, a creative challenge for local high school students organized by the MacLaren and sponsored by the Sarjeant Company. Artworks created in the W-Edge: Showing Pride programme adorned the vehicle’s front bumper and provided a focal point for the procession.

The MacLaren’s W-Edge programme takes place every Wednesday at the MacLaren Art Centre during the school year. Youth can drop-in from 3 to 5 pm and enjoy free art-making with their peers. New participants are always welcome.

W-Edge is generously sponsored by TD Bank. The MacLaren Art Centre also thanks the Sarjeant Company for their ongoing support of its youth education initiatives and the Gilbert Centre for lending their voice and resources to W-Edge: Showing Pride.

For more information, contact Education Officer Tyler Durbano at