Evergreen presents A Park For All – new artwork as part of the Don River Valley Park Art Program
Toronto-based artist Will Kwan creates a half-kilometre text installation along the Lower Don River
TORONTO, ONTARIO (September 11, 2018) – Who is a park for? This question and its many answers are explored in a powerful new site-specific text installation by Toronto-based artist Will Kwan along a half-kilometre stretch of Toronto’s Lower Don River. A Park For All – the newest artwork as part of Evergreen’s Don River Valley Park Art Program – speaks to the intersection of audience and public space, communities’ expectations for urban parks, and in particular the varying perspectives of the Don River Valley Park. The artwork – a mural that consists of 75 sentences painted in 30-inch high letters - will be on display for five years along the east side of the retaining wall from Riverdale to Gerrard Street East and from Dundas to Queen Street East.
“Public art sparks important conversations about our surroundings and urban landscape,” said Kari Cwynar, Evergreen curator of the Don River Valley Park Art Program. “Artist Will Kwan looks closely at the ongoing development of the Don Valley area and the ways in which public space serves various publics in vastly different ways. Through the naming of the different constituents of an urban park, Kwan ultimately asks the questions about the role of a park in contemporary society.”
Kwan’s artworks begin with research into his surroundings, leading to projects that examine the role of institutions in shaping economic and cultural realities. In creating A Park For All, Kwan has watched the transformation of the Don River Valley and its surrounding neighbourhoods closely, observing the area’s revitalization and re-naturalization efforts. Located next to a highway and surrounded by distinct and differing neighbhourhoods, the urban park has diverse uses and users. For this artwork, Kwan draws on these juxtapositions.
“People can see themselves in multiple references,” says Kwan. “A Park For All is about confusion between what we think of as the natural world and the built elements of a city. It is about the park as something that is seen as inherently good but also as something that can be exclusionary. The point was that the development of this park and the experience of using this park is like the experience of living in a complex city. You have all these competing elements that have to sit next to each other and depending on how you identify and how you reflect on your position, you can fit into multiple categories, sometimes into multiple contradictory categories.”
Some passers-by may have already caught a glimpse of the artwork as it was being installed over the summer. From a floating scaffolding on the Don River, the team of installers stencilled and hand-painted the text by Kwan onto the retaining wall. A Park For All can be read from the Lower Don Trail, with its text visible in different ways depending on the season - partially hidden during peak foliage and revealing itself more during the winter months. Trail-users can share photos and what a park means to them online through #ArtInTheDon.
Coinciding with the launch of this installation, Evergreen presents a new Don Dialogue, a conversation with three of the art program’s participating artists – Kwan, Gareth Long and Beth Stuart – on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at Evergreen Brick Works. The discussion will delve into the artists’ work, explore new models for public art, and the ways in which temporary public art can reflect the changing cityscape and post critical questions about land, our use of and engagement with public space, and the histories and narratives of place.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Will Kwan (b. Hong Kong, 1978) is a Toronto-based artist whose work examines diverse cultural practices as impacted or resurrected in the flows of historical and contemporary economic relations.
Kwan received his MFA from Columbia University in 2004 and from 2004 – 2006 was a research fellow at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, The Netherlands. His work has also been exhibited at the 2010 Liverpool Biennial; the 2007 Montreal Biennial; the 2003 Venice Biennial; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center; Art in General and Cooper Union in New York; the Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai; the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin; the ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany; the Contemporary Art Center in Vilinus, Lithuania; the Polish National Museum in Poznan; The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the Power Plant in Toronto; and the Western Front in Vancouver.
Kwan has been an artist-in-residence at numerous institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, Italy, the Duolun Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, and recently at the Center for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, England. His work is held in the collections of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the Doris McCarthy Gallery in Toronto, and the M+ Museum of Visual Culture in Hong Kong.
ABOUT THE DON RIVER VALLEY ART PROGRAM:
The Don River Valley Park Art Program, presented by Evergreen in partnership with the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, is a series of new temporary sculptural installations, murals, billboards and performance, including dance and sound, along the Don River, created specifically for this site by local, Canadian and international artists. The commissioned artworks artworks explore the Don Valley’s ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous histories and future histories and the decisions that continue to shape the city’s public space and public art. Each project will have its own timeline, with some lasting many years and others for one day.
The Don River Valley Park, a 200-hectare greenspace spanning Pottery Road to Corktown Common, aims to build connections to and from neighbourhoods, engage Torontonians and visitors in cultural activities and enhance the environment of one of the world’s largest ravine systems.