Sew What Fashion Show featuring Up and Rooted Art Exhibit


Carleen Robinson, cell: 647-203-8699| email: [email protected]

Media Advisory: Toronto youth celebrate a summer full of creativity with a neighbourhood art exhibit and fashion show

Art Starts launches crowd-funding campaign to continue vital programming

TORONTO, ONTARIO (August 14th, 2014) Art Starts youth artists and designers are excited to invite you to an art, fashion and musical experience featuring the Up & Rooted art exhibit and the Sew What?! Earth, Wind and Fire Fashion Show on Sunday August 24th from 1-4pm at Villaways. The event will feature the creations of over 45 youth artists and designers and a special guest performance by Canadian hip hop legend, Michie Mee.

The Up & Rooted art exhibit is the culmination of months of workshops with over 25 residents of the Villaways community, a Toronto Community Housing Neighbourhood scheduled to be torn down and revitalized in the coming years. Participants worked with artists Virginia Tran and Douglas Hurst on visual arts projects exploring the theme of community and revitalization. They also worked with acclaimed director Charles Officer on a series of stop-motion animation videos.

The Earth, Wind and Fire fashion show is the culmination of an intensive summer fashion program called Sew What?!. Over the course of 6 weeks, 18 fashion-inspired youth participated in over 160 hours of hands on workshops and studio visits with Toronto fashion luminaries such as Stacy McKenzie, Peter Papapetrou, Adrian Wu and Sarah Stevenson.

“I was really surprised by how hands-on everything was and all the experience and inspiration we got from designers” says Sew What?! graduate Keisha James, 21. “The trips we went on were really great because normally I don’t have the opportunity to go to places like the Design Exchange or the textile museum. That provided lots and lots of inspiration.”

Over the past 3 years Sew What?! has trained over 75 youth, supporting them in taking the next step in their careers. At the end of 2014 funding for the program will end and in anticipation of that Art Starts is launching a crowd-funding campaign to continue offering this program.

“Sew What?! challenges youth to break out of their comfort zones, ignites their creative capacity and drives their motivation all the while providing the tools necessary to move forward” says Katherine Earl, Program Director at Art Starts. “We want to ensure this vital program continues to provide young people with opportunities to take their fashion inspiration to the next level!”

The Up & Rooted art exhibit and the Sew What?! Earth, Wind and Fire Fashion Show will give the broader community an opportunity to experience the creations of these incredibly talented and inspired artists and designers.

“This marks our third fashion show and the biggest one yet with 18 participants” says Sew What?! Program Manager Carleen Robinson. “I loved experiencing the creativity that flowed from this group each and every day of the program. I can’t wait for people to witness the talent I’ve seen blossom over the past 6 weeks!”

Both Up & Rooted and Sew What?! are funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The crowd-funding campaign will launch on August 19th and will continue until October 19th. Donations to the crowd-funding campaign can be made by visiting our website at

Art Starts is a charitable organization that has been bringing professional artists and underserved communities together in community-building arts programs for over 20 years. They are the winners of Toronto Arts Foundation’s 2013 Arts for Youth Award.

WHO: Sew What?! AND the Villaways Up & Rooted crew

WHAT: Earth Wind & Fire fashion show AND Up & Rooted art exhibit featuring special guest   performance by Canadian hip hop legend Michie Mee

WHEN: Sunday August 24th: art exhibit 1-2:30, fashion show 2:30-4

WHERE: The Rec @ 20 Adra Villaway

WHY: To celebrate and showcase the incredible artistic creations of two Art Starts programs and to welcome friends and colleagues to the Villaways neighbourhood
For more information, please visit or contact Carleen Robinson at 647-203-8699

International Muslim Fashion & Design Show

On August 23rd, Art Starts will be participating in the first Modest Fashion Festival in Canada. Sew What?! participants are honoured to have been invited to this historical event. Hosted by Victorious Me in collaboration with several successful owners of thriving Canadian businesses, including: Dine Halal, Urban Muslimahs, Halal Foodie, and more you can expect to see High Fashion Modest Designs.

Collectively Victorious Me aims to provide the attendees of the events with an inspirational and empowering atmosphere, dedicated to the positive growth of women. These events will also expose the women with opportunities to network and shop with local female-led businesses and unite the sisterhood through their passion for modest fashion.
For additional information, please email [email protected] or call 647.707.5142 or 647.707.2339

How Art Starts Builds Bridges

Villaways Youth Make Short Films

In June, youth from our Up & Rooted Program in Villaways took a field trip to the National Film Board to create their own stop motion animation short films. Accompanied by acclaimed film maker Charles Officer youth spent the day learning the ins and outs of film-making including scripting, storyboarding and animation. The kids created their very own short film using a variety of materials and professional animation equipment! Choosing between either clay or paper-cut out methods they were able to accomplish a 10 second film during their workshop.

When asked what the workshop experience was like, one of the participants Rebekah Kelly exclaimed that ”It was awesome!“ Thank you NFB and all involved for this great opportunity. You can  watch all the short films here.