Client: The Winnipeg Arts Council
Location: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Completion date: 2020
The Winnipeg Arts Council
Wolfrom Engineering Ltd.
State Craft Architectural Fabricators
Carther Studio Team
Komatich Lighting Design
0812 Building Solutions
A brilliant beacon that calls from the entry plaza of the Chancellor rapid transit station, (Un)still Life with Spoked Wheels, announces that you have arrived.
In a mash-up of time, the 2-part installation is sited at the station’s entry plaza and at the base of a nearby rapid transit overpass, at the urban edge of Winnipeg, Canada. The station is located at the head of the historic Red River cart trail, and the sculptures make a connection between a historic, regional mode of transportation and modern rapid transit.
Red River carts with their distinctive large spoked wheels, were designed and utilized by the Métis people to transport furs from Winnipeg to St. Paul, Minnesota.
The massive illuminated glass cylinders in (Un)still Life with Spoked Wheels are created with multiple layers of bonded glass and have exceptional optical qualities. Within them are moiré patterns and color shifting dichroic glass. The moiré patterns and dichroic glass combine to create a perception of movement. The spoked wheel moiré patterns appear to rotate, while an infinity symbol, long used by the Métis people, emerges from the center.
My overarching goals for (Un)still Life with Spoked Wheels was to surprise and delight visitors while providing them with a unique perspective on the history of the site - highlighting its past significance to the local Métis people and connecting that to its current use as a rapid transit station.
The design of (Un)still Life is a reflection of those goals. The two sculptures are large and iconic, capturing the attention of those at the station plaza and those approaching by car or rapid transit. The unexpected illusion of movement in the stationary sculptures created by the spoked wheel moiré and color shifting dichroic glass, surprises viewers while giving meaning and a unique perspective to both sites.
The sculptures aerodynamic form is emblematic of modern rapid transit, while the rust patina of the corten steel suggests the passing of time. The choice of the spoked wheel as the primary metaphor creates a conceptual link between the historical Red River cart and the wheels of the new rapid transit vehicles. The Infinity symbol that emerges from the heart of the wheel pattern honors the Métis innovators that created the red river carts.
The process began with research into the site and its history as well as consultations with community members.
This was followed with multiple meetings with the Winnipeg Arts Council to discuss the site, context and my ideas for the project. I also met with city planners and landscape designers. After finalizing the concept I began to work with Evan Kallusky to create an interactive digital 3-D model. After my final presentation to the Winnipeg Art Council and stake holders I began the important process of selecting fabricators and collaborators to work with.
The selected fabricators and collaborators: Glass creation - Carther Studio team, Warren Carther, Dan Brown, Paul Gabrielle and Gareth Engineer – Jon Reid of Wolfrom Engineering Ltd. Steel fabricators - State Craft Architectural Fabricators Briggs Lighting design – Blaine Komatich Installers – Marco Gallo and 0812 Building Solutions
Work began on the fabrication of various elements and all processes were overseen by Warren Carther.
Regular scheduled meetings with Winnipeg Arts Council and stake holders were taken to discuss the progress of the project.
The installation was completed in July, 2020.
The sculptures are highly interactive, particularly at the station plaza. Those that encounter the pieces are drawn in to have a closer look. They can playfully engage with the works looking at them from different angles and observing the optical effects. Looking deep into the glass cylinders, viewers we will see colorful moiré effects that change with different angles of view. Each of the glass cylinders is positioned to be at a height for various sized humans to be able to peer inside the glass components. During the day, the dichroic glass is in reflective mode and reflects back colorful diaphanous echoes of themselves laid over the spoked wheel image. The colors transition throughout the day and night and in various types of weather. The sculpture for the overpass is viewed from a different perspective. It is visible while passing by on bicycle or on foot but many viewers will see it as they pass by in vehicles. To address this, the work is large and bold to be viewed from a distance. It needed to be able to engage viewers while not being too distracting to drivers.