VIRTUAL COACHING

By Ebti Nabag

COACH DEIDRE

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COACH BRITT

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COACH OSAMA

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ARTIST STATEMENT

The impact of COVID on the city of Toronto has been experienced more intensely in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement areas. With LAY-UP's in-person basketball programs closed due to the pandemic, LAY-UP decided to launch a virtual program to keep young people engaged with a variety of online workshops aimed at physical activity, creativity and maintaining meaningful connections.

 

Over the course of 8 weeks, LAY-UP had 305 participants from neighbourhoods across the city including Jane & Finch, Malvern, Thorncliffe, Regent Park, Rexdale, Mt. Dennis, Woburn and Kington/Galloway. For this series of portraits, I connected with 12 LAY-UP participants in their community, with their families, to create an image of young people in their neighbourhoods during the pandemic.

 

I spent 40 minutes photographing each youth, and while I might have not needed the entire 40 minutes for the images, the youth and their parents did. It was evident that those moments outside of their home and going for a walk to the neighbourhood’s basketball court filled the youth and their parents with excitement and gratitude. 

 

One of the factors that contribute to well-being while navigating a pandemic is making a difference in the lives of others -- this series showcases that impact. Using photography as an art medium, this series aims to capture the infectious optimism and positive energy that radiates from young people during challenging times filled with uncertainty. It also celebrates the resilience young people in the LAY-UP program demonstrated.

 

Given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, and how disproportionately families in these communities have been affected by COVID-19, these portraits provide viewers with an opportunity to examine the meaningful connections that remain and can be built using community programming in a time of social distancing.

 

The images show how distinct communities across Toronto are. To an extent, I got the opportunity to experience those neighbourhoods. While taking these portraits, I wondered how this work as a whole might inform our understanding of Toronto as a city and the communities that comprise it? It’s a question that I invite you to think about as you spend time viewing the gallery and listening to the audio.

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

 

Ebti Nabag is a graduate of Ryerson University’s MFA program Documentary Media in Film and Photography. She is a visual artist who works with photography, video, and installation. She is also a digital and analogue photography instructor. She teams up with galleries and community centers to develop art programs that provide opportunities for creative self-expression and aid in the development of identity. Her work is motivated by stories from the people who don’t often get to be heard. She hopes her documentations serve as bridges between people and communities. 

CREDITS

 

Photography by Ebti Nabag

Co-Curated by Ebti Nabag and Chris Penrose

Design by Trung Hoang