New York-based artist Virginia Overton creates site-specific public artworks in the Lower Don

TORONTO, ONTARIO (December 19, 2018) – Evergreen opens a new dialogue surrounding the Lower Don Valley’s industrial vestiges and post-industrial revitalization efforts through a series of newly-installed public sculptures by New York-based artist Virginia Overton. The outdoor exhibition entitled Built, a partnership between Evergreen’s Don River Valley Park Art Program and New York’s Socrates Sculpture Park, was originally presented at Socrates Sculpture Park early in 2018. The Toronto iteration has been adapted for the Don River Valley Park and is on display in the Lower Don Trail and at Evergreen Brick Works through October 2019.

Three of the exhibition’s original sculptures are installed along the trail a short walk south of the Pottery Road trail entrance. Alternatively, you can enter at the Riverdale Park trail head and walk north along the path. The centerpiece is a sixteen-foot salvaged pine beam suspended from a found steel gantry, which Overton has transformed into a massive communal swing. Alongside it, an eight-foot structure made from rusted steel girders holds dozens of cut metal pipes gathered from the artist’s studio, Socrates Sculpture Park, Evergreen’s scrap materials and from around Toronto. Together the pipes act as impromptu lenses, framing and focusing in on the Lower Don Valley.

The latest in Overton’s series of lightbox signs is on display at Evergreen Brick Works overlooking the quarry. A new work made in Toronto is scheduled to be installed in the Lower Don Trail in spring 2019.

“We’re thrilled to present Virginia Overton’s work in Canada for the first time, and to have developed a new partnership with Socrates Sculpture Park,” says Kari Cwynar, Evergreen’s Curator of the Don River Valley Park Art Program. “It has been incredible to observe how Overton transforms ordinary found materials into such elegant and dynamic new forms. In each project she undertakes, Overton pays particularly close attention to site – in this case the landscape of the Don Valley. In this context, Overton’s sculptures open vital conversation around issues of reuse, and how traces of industry and material excess shape how we see Toronto. Her project offers a way to think through the city’s industrial history, looking towards the future.”

In her work, Overton re-purposes the ubiquitous industrial and natural material found in cities like Toronto and New York – using discarded and scrap objects that resonate with the post-industrial landscape of Long Island City, where Socrates Sculpture Park is located, and that of Toronto’s Lower Don Valley, where rural and urban, industrial and post-industrial converge.

“My choice of materials comes from a reaction to objects as I see them. I rarely have an idea about what something will become, but if, in its found state the object interests me, then I let that interest lead the making of the sculpture,” says Overton, reflecting on her use of materials found in Toronto as well as those brought from New York.  

“I think this material continuum is essential to the way I work. Either by way of past artworks being springboards for new ones, materials shifting into new works or found materials entering the dialogue at a new site.”

In Built, she brings these raw and recycled materials together in unexpected new configurations and with reference to the setting of a public park. The resulting works offer potent reflections on the circulation of excess materials throughout North America. Overton’s practice introduces new ways of thinking about reuse, and encourages a close look at the material language of cities, and the economic systems that shape the built environment.


Virginia Overton was born in Tennessee and currently lives and works in New York. Overton's work comprises installation, sculpture and photography, often beginning as a direct response to her presence in a particular space.

Solo exhibitions have been presented at Socrates Sculpture Park (Long Island City), The Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art at the University of Memphis, Museum Of Contemporary Art Tucson, The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield), White Cube (London), All Rise (Seattle), Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Storm King Art Center (Mountainville), Westfälischer Kunstverein (Münster), Kunsthalle Bern, The Kitchen (New York), and The Power Station (Dallas).

Her work is collected by The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Kunstmuseum Bern, and Kunsthaus Zürich.  Upcoming solo exhibitions include Francesca Pia Gallery (Zürich) and Bortolami Gallery (New York), and a record release with Future Audio Graphics in New York.


Socrates Sculpture Park was founded in 1986 by sculptor Mark di Suvero as a community engaged, accessible arts space dedicated to supporting artists in the production and presentation of public artworks.


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 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.