Art takes flight at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has long been Toronto’s jumping-off point for adventure, but did you know that for those interested in art, music and history, the journey begins well before you get on the plane? As you move through the passenger terminal, you'll find yourself immersed in a vibrant tapestry of art installations that reflect the spirit and diversity of Toronto. From thought-provoking exhibits to live musical performances, there's something here for every art enthusiast and history buff alike.

Bloody Boats: Navigating the immigrant experience
"Bloody Boats" by Akshata Naik

"Bloody Boats": Navigating the immigrant experience

Location: Arrivals level

Experience the emotional journey of immigrants through “Bloody Boats,” an installation by artist Akshata Naik. Symbolizing the struggles and triumphs of migration, this powerful piece invites viewers to contemplate the complexities of displacement and resilience.

"Bloody Boats” stands as a testament to the universal human experience of seeking refuge, hope, and opportunity. Through its dynamic portrayal of boat shapes on a large scale, the artwork captures the essence of the immigrant journey—a journey marked by courage, adversity, and the pursuit of a better life.

Naik's personal narrative as an immigrant infuses the installation with authenticity and empathy, resonating with a global audience of migrants and refugees. By deconstructing and dismantling the symbolic representation of traumatic voyages, “Bloody Boats” sparks dialogue and reflection on the socio-political realities faced by displaced individuals worldwide.

The Fabric of our Being: Recognizing the contributions of Black Canadians
"The Fabric of our Being" by Nadine Williams

"The Fabric of Our Being": Recognizing the contributions of Black Canadians

Location: Departures level

Step into a celebration of Black history with “The Fabric of Our Being” quilt. Created by Nadine Williams and students from TDSB Waterfront School, this project intertwines art and poetry to honor the contributions of Black Canadians, showcasing themes of resilience, diversity, and justice, and celebrate the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent.

Each tile of the quilt is a reflection of the students' admiration for Black leaders and their commitment to social justice. From portraits of iconic figures like Jean Augustine and Viola Desmond to symbols of unity and empowerment, themes of identity and inclusion and explored throughout.

Incorporating African fabrics and inspired by Williams’ poem “The Fabric of Our Being,” the quilt’s intricate patterns and heartfelt messages invite visitors to reflect on the ongoing journey towards equality and recognition for Black communities in Canada and beyond.

Project T-Dot: Celebrating Toronto’s Hip-Hop legacy
"Project T-Dot" by Ajani Charles

"Project T-Dot": Celebrating Toronto’s Hip-Hop legacy

Location: Arrivals level

Explore the vibrancy of Toronto's Hip-Hop scene with “Project T-Dot,” the brainchild of celebrated Toronto photographer Ajani Charles. Featuring a range of iconic figures and grassroots visionaries, this exhibit offers a glimpse into the rich cultural landscape of Toronto’s Hip-Hop scene.

Project T-Dot, which initially premiered at Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square in 2022, presents a definitive visual story that features instantly recognizable subjects such as Drake, The Weeknd, Director X, Kardinal Offishall, Jessie Reyez, Jully Black, Master T, Maestro Fresh Wes, and organizations like The Remix Project, Honey Jam, Manifesto Community Projects, October's Very Own, and MuchMusic, among many others.

Reflecting the diversity of the Hip-Hop subculture, the exhibit features members of the 2SLGBTQ+, Black, and Indigenous communities, women, youth from equity-deserving neighbourhoods, recent immigrants, and other marginalized groups. Passengers travelling through Billy Bishop Airport will be greeted with 60 large-scale photographic panels in the terminal's atrium alongside a 55-inch interactive touchscreen featuring a comprehensive database of information on Toronto's Hip-Hop culture, community, and history.

Find more information on Ajani Charles and Project T-Dot.

Indigenous Art Gallery: Honoring tradition and history
Indigenous Art Gallery

Indigenous Art Gallery: Honoring tradition and history

Location: Departures level

Pay tribute to Indigenous culture and heritage at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport’s Indigenous Art Gallery, with pieces curated by the Bay of Spirits Contemporary First Nations Art Gallery. Featuring works from local and regional artists, this installation invites reflection and appreciation.

The gallery serves as a platform for Indigenous voices to be heard and celebrated. From traditional to contemporary works, each piece tells a story of resilience, connection, and cultural pride.

By showcasing the creativity and talent of Indigenous artists, the gallery fosters understanding and dialogue between communities. Visitors are encouraged to engage with the artwork, learning about the rich traditions and histories that continue to shape Indigenous identity in Canada.

Music on the Fly: The soaring sounds of Toronto’s music scene
"Music on the Fly"

"Music on the Fly": The soaring sounds of Toronto’s music scene

Location: Arrivals level

Immerse yourself in the sounds of Toronto with “Music on the Fly,” a partnership with Arthaus and the City of Toronto. From soulful melodies to lively beats, these live performances showcase the city's musical talent and cultural vibrancy.

“Music on the Fly” transforms the airport’s atrium into a stage, inviting passengers to experience the rhythm and energy of Toronto's music scene. Whether it's jazz, blues, or indie rock, there's something for every musical taste to enjoy.

As travelers wait for their flights or arrive in the city, they can relax and unwind to the sounds of local artists, creating a welcoming and engaging atmosphere that perfectly sets the tone for an exploration of the city itself. “Music on the Fly” is more than just entertainment—it's a celebration of community and connection, bringing people together through the universal language of music.

Performances are seasonal so check online for an up-to-date schedule.

Women in Aviation Wall of Fame: Celebrating trailblazers
Women in Aviation Wall of Fame

Women in Aviation Wall of Fame: Celebrating trailblazers

Location: Departures level

The Women in Aviation Wall of Fame at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport stands as a testament to the pioneering spirit and contributions of women in the field of aviation. Amelia Earhart, renowned for her groundbreaking solo flight across the Atlantic, holds the prestigious position as the inaugural honouree. Her connection to Toronto, dating back to her visit in 1917, serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring aviators.

Each inductee on the Wall of Fame represents a legacy of courage, determination, and innovation. From breaking barriers to shattering stereotypes, these women have left an indelible mark on the aviation industry and continue to inspire future generations.

With new inductees being honored every six weeks until the end of 2024, the Women in Aviation Wall of Fame promises to be a dynamic tribute to the enduring legacy of women in flight. Find more information and discover the stories behind each honoree.

Maanjidowin, The Gathering: Recognizing the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
"Maanjidowin, The Gathering" by David M. General

"Maanjidowin, The Gathering:" Recognizing the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation

Location: Dock wall, overlooking the Western Gap

The "Maanjidowin" sculpture was commissioned in recognition of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and their relationship to the land, air and water on which Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport now operates. The sculpture features three mythical fishers—Mukwa-kwe (Bear), Nigig-kwe (Otter) and Migizi-kwe (Eagle)—who have come to the estuaries and islands along Toronto’s Lake Ontario shoreline to fish.

The canoe in which the fishers sit is inscribed with words and symbols of significance to the Mississaugas of the Credit, including the Medicine Wheel and the Seven Grandfather Teachings, which are guiding principles that provide the moral and cultural foundation of life.

The sculpture was created by David M. General, Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan of the Six Nations, who is known for blending Indigenous and modernist styles and typically working with stone.

"Maanjidowin, The Gathering" offers an important reminder of the Indigenous roots that run deep within Toronto's landscape. The next time you find yourself at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, we invite you to take a moment to pause, reflect, and honor this legacy.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is more than a transportation hub; it’s a destination in its own right that reflets the vibrant city it serves. Passengers and residents alike are encouraged to take the time to enjoy the art throughout the passenger terminal and reflect on its significance. Whether you're jetting off or simply exploring your own backyard, make sure to add Billy Bishop Airport to your itinerary—it's a journey worth taking.