Some local high school students were tasked with each painting a ceramic tile that sends out a message of diversity. Now the results are on display for everyone to sit on.
The Benches of Diversity project resulted in a one-of-a-kind public art project that’s also a new public amenity.
The more than 400 handmade tiles created by the students were affixed to two eight-foot long cement benches by local artist Elaine Brewer-White.
“It was so interesting. Some kids just had fun, and some kids were absolutely serious,” she said of the diversity of the tile art.
Students at Langley Secondary, R.E. Mountain Secondary, H.D. Stafford Middle School and a New Westminister school took part.
“It was an interesting story that we we’re telling. There are kids representing every kind of culture in our community,” Brewer-White said. “…And that is a really powerful thing.”
The project started last autumn with Brewer-White creating the tiles in her art studio. The students did their artwork on them then she fired the tiles and arranged them on what are actually massive, upside down cement planters.
Initially only Langley schools were participating but one local school wasn’t able to take part and a friend on Bewer-White’s dragonboat team offered to have her students in New Westminister contribute.
On the Derek Doubleday Arboretum gravel path that runs between 56th Avenue and Fraser Highway, people will come across the colourful benches which were officially unveiled Thursday.
“The project is a celebration of diversity and inclusivity and how it makes us a better community,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese.
An anonymous donation funded the project and the benches were donated to the Township. The Township moved the 2,500 pound cement benches into place with heavy equipment.
Grade 11 LSS student Alex Morranda said students like to walk that area during lunch period so they will get a chance to enjoy them.
Being on the arboretum’s western path, the benches provide the public an opportunity to watch aircraft comings and goings at the Langley Regional Airport or to enjoy the greenspace to the west.