A public art collaboration between the Region of Peel and the City of Mississauga has brought an otherwise dull construction site to life with colour and imagination. The City Builders by artist Wenting Li was unveiled to the public in early November.

The piece is a mural that graces the construction fencing that surrounds the Burnamthorpe water project near the Mississauga Civic Centre. The lengthy project will see 12 kilometres of water main and sewer infrastructure to support the ongoing growth of the city urban centre.

“The region understands that construction, although necessary, can cause communities to look messy during the process,” says Elvis Oliveira, Peel Region water division director. “We are pleased to work with the city to help the downtown core look brighter and for the community to have something interesting to see during the next two years of our infrastructure project.”

The vibrant mural highlights the many cultural and architectural landmarks throughout Mississauga, including city hall, Celebration Square, Sheridan College, Kariya Park and Central Library. Throughout, are images of residents that reflect the city’s diversity and, according to Li, gives Mississauga “its liveliness, purpose and vitality.”

Li is an illustrator and recent graduate of OCAD University, the largest and most comprehensive art, design and media education institution in Canada. Specializing in murals, masks and comics, she makes a point of always carrying a sketchbook to note down and process the many interesting occurrences that happen in everyday life.

Mississauga’s Culture Division commissioned the artwork from the PATCH (Public Art Through Construction Hoarding) Project. PATCH is a social enterprise operated by the award-winning STEPS Initiative which has supported some of the largest and most innovative public artworks in Canada.

PATCH installs permanent and temporary art in underused spaces like construction sites, which, in turn, promote community ties, beautify the streetscape and provide a platform for emerging artists to exhibit in the public realm. The program arranges for a community artist or arts organization to create a site-specific, community-engaged art piece. The artist facilitates the production of new site-specific work that reflects either the local community or a theme with input from the community.

“Encouraging and supporting the integration of public art on construction fencing is a key action item in the City of Mississauga’s Public Art Master Plan,” says Paul Damaso, city culture director. “The artwork created by Wenting Li reflects city building and municipal infrastructure as it relates to water and urban life in Mississauga’s growing and thriving downtown. This innovative public art project showcases the benefits of partners working together to help beautify public spaces during long-term construction projects.”

The City Builders is on display on the construction fencing along Duke of York Blvd. south of City Centre Drive and along Burnamthorpe Rd. to the east of Duke of York Blvd. Visit thepatchproject.com for information.