A Temporary Public Art Project by the Town of Oakville

‘Hope Is the Thing with Feathers’ Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the face mask has become the symbol of the pandemic. Obligatory in many countries, the mask has now become part of our daily lives for over a year. On one hand it represents the hardships, separation, distance and restriction, but at the same time it is also a symbol of survival, care, resilience and protection. It can be rightfully said that this simple, inexpensive object has become a powerful image and representation of our collective experience. For this project, I invited the community, residents of Oakville and beyond, to collaborate by sending their used masks to be added in the artwork, and also personal narratives that they wanted to share with others, reflecting on their experience during the pandemic, the challenges, and how they coped. The project celebrates the spirit of community building and our unquestionable strength in coming together in difficult times. The artwork is uplifting, inspiring, and like Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘Hope Is the Thing with Feathers’, portrays that hope lives within us all, which we need to nurture, value and never let go, no matter how hard the times get.

Tazeen Qayyum

Tazeen Qayyum (b.73) is a contemporary artist living and working in Oakville. She received her BFA in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts Lahore, Pakistan in 1996. Her work has received several critical reviews including in The Canadian Art (2018), The New York Times (2009) and The Globe and Mail, Canada (2011&2015). She was nominated for the Jameel Prize (2013) and K.M. Hunter Award (2014), and received the Excellence in Art Award 2015 by the CCAI (Canadian Community Arts Initiative). Her work has been exhibited around the world and is part of several important public collections.