Art in constant revolution 

By Karen Herland

City dwellers outside of museums and galleries got a taste of culture when students from ARTX 399 wheeled their art to them.

Sienna Hanshaw's cart brings nocturnal night life into the light of day. Magnifying glass

Sienna Hanshaw's cart brings nocturnal night life into the light of day.

2x4x22 is the result of the class’s year-long reflection on the role of public art and the challenges of site-specific work (both legal and logistical). In the end, students each created their own 2’ by 4’ c(art)work expressing an idea they wanted to insert or explore in an urban context.

“We looked at the way site specific work is ephemeral,” explained LTA Donna Akrey, adding that students considered locations as diverse as depanneurs, laundromats and libraries for their final project. The ephemeral as mobile and the concept of carts took hold.

Students split into teams addressing one of three locations (the Old Port/Lachine Canal, Mile End/Plateau or downtown). They planned both their individual intervention and how they would interact with each other and the space. From April 13 to 18, the carts were installed around town. Students recorded and blogged about their efforts at

ARTX is a series of courses developed within the Studio Arts Program that encourage inter-disciplinary art production. “It mirrors the way many artists work today,” says Gisele Amantea, who has been coordinating the five intro and two upper level courses offered each year. Developed from foundational courses for painting and drawing, current ARTX courses address contemporary subjects. The curriculum has been defined to reflect the concerns of contemporary art practice.

Nadine Riehl recreated her dairy farm childhood by using her cart to churn cream into butter. Magnifying glass

Nadine Riehl recreated her dairy farm childhood by using her cart to churn cream into butter.

The five intro-level courses encourage students to develop work along a particular theme. Amantea says students have addressed concepts as diverse as recycling, sustainability, performance, mapping or time-based works. The upper level students produce exhibitions, developing their individual work for public presentation. Amantea’s 400-level students organized an exhibition titled Undisciplinary Practices that took place earlier this month in the Bain St. Michel. Akrey’s site-specific exhibition is also a way to deal with the lack of space currently available for students taking the courses. “We’ve been creative about it,” says Amantea.

Many of the individual projects reflect the students’ preoccupation with space. Bryce Petersen’s cart is padded and topped with a retractable mini-geodesic dome allowing the user a shelter, refuge or means of transportation in one unit. Meanwhile, Jp King’s Nomadesk Writer’s Residency provided a portable typewriter and inspirational library to provoke authors’ creativity in reserved half-hour blocks of time, anywhere the cart is wheeled. The project clearly illustrated the need for a space of one’s own to produce and present creative work.

Julie Leveillé’s cart provides a moving garden intended to provoke memories from those encountered. Nadine Riehl took the opportunity to revive memories of her own childhood on a dairy farm. She used to drag a wagon with a jar of cream behind her until the jostled cream became butter. Her cart holds three jars of cream at different stages of preparation so that she can always offer freshly buttered bread to passers-by. She served about 100 slices over the six days of the project.

Riehl serves freshly-made butter from her (c)art. Magnifying glass

Riehl serves freshly-made butter from her (c)art.

The students ended their tour on the lawn of the Canadian Centre for Architecture on April 18. The location was ideal because that weekend marked the end of the CCA’s exhibit Actions: What you can do with a city. The exhibit catalogues a number of community and cultural interventions into public and urban space. “It was incredibly inspiring,” said Akrey. From there, the students traveled to the FOFA Gallery for a vernissage hosted by interim director jake moore and a review of their blog, charting each day’s events.

Students also fundraise for materials they need for their work over the course of the academic year. Akrey’s students benefited from funds through the Open Sessions-University Studies program at the CCA and articule’s special projects grant.


Concordia University