(Photos courtesy of Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery)

For the past dozen years, Toronto artist Ross Bonfanti has been buying thrift store stuffed animals, slashing open their backs, and replacing their plush insides with concrete.

In his quest to give a sense of permanence to these tattered toys—most of which were loved and discarded—he ends up destroying the originals (although sometimes he retains some of the fur or fabrics to fool the eye).

“I feel a little guilty sometimes,” said Bonfanti, a married father of two young sons. “But we have this sort of fossilized version of something that meant something to somebody.” Bonfanti has even accepted a couple commissions from grown-ups who wanted a more lasting version of their childhood companions.

Thirty-three of his sculptures comprise Under Pressure, an exhibit that’s at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery, at 262 Mott Street, through August 11. The show’s title hints at Bonfanti’s lifelong struggle with anxiety, as commonplace in our culture as a mass-produced teddy bears. Bonfanti says that concrete symbolizes the emotional calluses we each of develops in adulthood, especially when living in a city as demanding as New York.

Click through the slideshow of some of the works, paired with commentary from Bonfanti.