Canada’s universities are often supporters and curators of public art projects. Here’s just a small sampling of the artworks creating spaces of beauty, inspiration and contemplation on campuses across the country.
The 2014 installation of Janice Swings brought the playground back to school at the University of British Columbia. Peter Fortune, a recent graduate of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture designed the swings for the Vancouver campus. The white oak swings are dedicated to the mother of Leslie Van Duzer, a professor and director the school.
McMaster was abuzz with this environmentally responsible art project that had students teaming up with the university’s apiary to encourage the growth of local bee populations. So, these Bee Hotel sculptures don’t just look great, they’re contributing to a greener, more sustainable campus too.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the Université de Sherbrooke installed five student-made murals in December. Each mosaic-like mural consists of individual panels inspired by the concepts of “contrast”, “shadow” and “light”. The murals depict 16 different tableaux, which, taken together, speak to the university’s values: innovation, social engagement, connectedness, achievement and humanity.
Beautiful inside and out
Not satisfied with the beauty of its natural surroundings, the University of Victoria has loaded its campus with more than 27,000 art objects. (About 2,300 of these pieces are on display at any given time.) Perhaps most impressive is UVic’s collection of First Nations and indigenous art. The First Peoples House is home to remarkable sculptural pieces such as Grey Whale Tail by John Livingston and Calvin Hunt, while the building itself is a tribute to Coast Salish-style woodwork and design. Eagle on Decayed Pole and Raven Soaring, totem poles by Tony and Henry Hunt, stand majestically in the UVic quad and Welcoming Figure by Floyd (Tyee) Joseph towers over the pedestrian trails near the Engineering Building. Among the university’s other holdings: painter Ted Harrison’s View of British Columbia and Vast Yukon Triptych, the totemic S,yewe Legend Pole by Charles Elliott and Susan Point’s Good Luck.
Concordia’s treasure trove
Concordia University’s campus in downtown Montreal is a treasure trove of public art. A few gems in their collection: Transcendence, a 24-foot stainless steel and brass statue crafted by Walter Führer for Expo 67; photographer Geraldo Pace’s Heads of Engineering, a series of “portraits” of heads made from stone, glass, metal and wood; and The Four Seasons, an impressive series of stained glass panels by Yehouda Chaki that bring light and colour to the pedestrian tunnel connecting Concordia’s Engineering and Visual Arts Building with the John Molson School of Business.
The University of Manitoba also boasts an artful tunnel. Fine arts student Vladimir Kraynyk says he hoped to create a sense of movement and dynamic energy with his futurist-inspired mural.
Concordia University is also home to Acer Concordiae, 52 laser-engraved stainless steel panels by Kamila Wozniakowska. The panels depict a fictional history of Concordia that traces the school back to a pair of maple trees. The piece was featured in the August-Sepetember 2011 issue of UA.