A&S celebrates Pride Month with a star-studded display

June 14, 2023 by A&S News

Suspended above Sidney Smith Hall’s atrium is a vibrant colourful display that serves as a reminder of the Faculty of Arts & Science’s ongoing commitment to fostering a welcoming space for all.

In celebration of Pride Month, the installation, titled “Stars of Hope, Courage, and Solidarity,” consists of 396 stars of woven paper. The concept, design and installation of the display was led by the Arts & Science Infrastructure Planning team, with more than 100 Dean’s Office staff members from 16 teams assembling the stars.

paper stars suspended from a high ceiling
The “Stars of Hope, Courage, and Solidarity" display suspended high above the Sidney Smith Hall atrium.

“It is so satisfying to bring colleagues together — many of whom were meeting one another for the first time through the project — to celebrate Pride, create something beautiful together, and show our collective support for LGBTQ2S+ colleagues, friends and family,” says Lucy Chung, one of the project co-leads and the director of infrastructure planning in Arts & Science.

colourful cupcakes on a table
Cupcakes to celebrate Pride.

The installation is inspired by two community-based public art projects: the One Billion Stars Project and the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The One Billion Stars Project was co-founded by Maryann Talia Pau, a Samoan Pasifika weaving artist and activist. The Arts & Science installation features the project’s eight-pointed star, which uses a weaving technique common in the Pacific Islands.

two students making paper stars
Volunteers assemble the stars before they adorn the Sidney Smith Hall atrium.  

The layout of the stars into colour-blocked panels fixed together in a large quilt-like pattern draws inspiration from the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Initiated by human-rights activist, Cleve Jones and friends during the early years of the AIDS crisis as a means of commemorating the loss of loved ones, the quilts feature the names of people who died from AIDS.

“I’m so pleased by what we accomplished together,” says Lisa Rumiel, the other project co-lead and the director of research services in Arts & Science. “We all work really hard every day to support faculty, staff and students across the Faculty of Arts & Science, but we don’t often get opportunities to connect and creatively express our common values.”

10s of stacked paper stars
Preparing for installation —  some of the stars folded and ready to go.

“I wanted to thank all of the volunteers who worked together to create this marvelous Pride installation,” says Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. "This spectacular visual display is a symbol of our Faculty's commitment to embracing and celebrating our LGBTQ2S+ community.”