Reader asks for story behind North Toronto CI sculpture

By Paula Sanderson
June 5, 2012
Q: As I wandered about North Toronto Collegiate Institute during the anniversary tour, I noticed a steel artistic structure on Roehampton Avenue with hundreds of inscribed names — but no sign about it. Could you enlighten me?

Arleigh Murphy, 
North Toronto Collegiate Institute student 1945–50
Davisville Ave.

A: “What’s Your Name?” is a four-metre stainless steel public art installation by Ilan Sandler. The massive sheets in the work are covered in both typed names and signatures.

The typed names are the first names of every student who attended the old school between 1912 and 2010. The 2,053 first names are only written once in the order in which they appear in the school records.

The signatures are those of current students and alumni.

On his website Sandler explains the work this way: “ ‘What’s your name?’ is often the first question we ask someone, and by answering we announce ourselves to each other and to the world.

“During adolescence our relationship to proper names tends to change; a name is no longer something given but something made, crafted and personalized through the deliberate art of the signature. Schools, and particularly high schools, are where the proper name and the signature intersect.”

You can even find “Arleigh” on the statue.

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