New downtown art installation invites people to sit and ponder
Two local artists are helping bring downtown Lethbridge together through the city’s latest public art installation in front of the Multicultural Centre, at the northwest corner of 5 Street and 6 Avenue South.
On Tuesday afternoon, Coryn Kempster and Julia Jamrozik welcomed the public to learn more about the installation of their piece, “Together,” which they refer to as a visual representation and a social infrastructure for community making.
“I am here today with my partner Julia Jamrozik and we are going to give a talk about the recent artwork that has been installed on the corner of 5th and 6th, in front of the Multicultural Centre,” says Kempster. “It is a sculpture called ‘Together,’ and we are hoping that it represents community, but it also helps foster it by giving people a place to sit and interact with one another. It was fabricated by Punch Clock Metal Works and installed by North Contracting.”
Composed of 26 chairs, the artwork references the universal and anthropomorphic qualities of the chair, while at the same time blurring the boundaries between the individual seats through aggregation and a use of colour to bring out Canada’s multicultural identity.
“The sculpture was awarded as part of a two-part competition that we won, and the call for works asked for the artists to respond to the site in front of the new Multicultural Centre, so we were invested in creating a piece that could embody some of the ideas of diversity and multiculturalism as it to relates to Lethbridge and Canada at large,” says Kempster. “We chose to do that with the figure of a chair. We like the qualities of the chair, the way that even when the chair is empty it recalls the human body that it was designed to accommodate. We talk about chairs having legs, arms and seats, but we thought it was a good symbol to talk about people and then, of course, we made it multicoloured, but we didn’t want it to be too simplistic as one chair is one person, so if you look closely at the work, the colours are all shifted, so no chair is one colour, but they are always affecting the colour of the neighbour.”
The purpose of the project was to provide a permanent piece of public art that creates a welcoming and appealing entrance to downtown. Kempster and Jamorzik hope it will be a communal space for people to meet friends or others from the community.
“We are hoping that as chairs, people will actually sit on it and not just look at it and in that way because the chairs are facing in different directions in a playful arrangement. We are hoping it becomes something a bit out of the ordinary,” says Kempster. “We do know from when we were installing it and talking with people that the corner is already a place where people hang out. There is a load-bearing concrete retaining wall that gets a lot of good use in the warmer months, so I have every hope that people will be choosing some time to spend some time there.”
The Heart of Our City Master Plan and the Public Realm and Transportation Study both identified the visible Round Street location as a special gateway into the downtown. Through a combination of public art and comprehensive landscaping, the entry point is said to become an experience that celebrates the unique environment, history and culture of downtown.