Photos: Tiffany Shum
As the Raptors turn 25, two Toronto artists create an 18-foot (5.5 metre) sculpture—honouring the NBA champions’ past, imagining their future and celebrating the diverse communities that support them.
What is behind a winner’s tears? How many layers does victory have? Where is the limit of endurance? To celebrate the success of a beloved Toronto team, artist and creative producer Bryan Espiritu will walk the corridors of a quarter-century of history, discovering tenderness and vulnerability behind champions’ muscled shells. Linking this history to his own experience of mental challenges and overcomings, he’ll offer an emotional journey across space and time. Esmaa Mohamoud’s practice has been focused on Black masculinity and its athletic manifestation—often in basketball. Here, she’ll tackle the task of envisioning our team’s future. This includes mapping the future of the city, of which the Raptors is a symbol and a glorious child—but which is still home to many tensions. This sculpture inspired by the Raptors anniversary symbol will be located on the backdrop of City Hall and Old City Hall, emphasizing multiple layers—temporal, stylistic and conceptual.
Bryan Espiritu is an artist, designer and creative producer from Toronto. He’s worked on creative for major brands, as well as created his own paintings. Esmaa Mohamoud is an African-Canadian sculptor and installation artist working in Toronto. Her sculptures and installations focus on the navigation of Black bodies in contemporary spaces.
This artwork was co-commissioned by MLSE’s Toronto Raptors and City of Toronto to open the anniversary season for the team. Creative direction was led by Mark Vallena.