Markham Public Art launches 9-week virtual summit: Becoming Public Art


Becoming Public Art: Working Models and Case Studies for Art in Public is a nine-week virtual summit presented by Markham Public Art in partnership with ART+PUBLIC UnLtd. A fast-developing urban environment, the City of Markham has one of the most diverse populations in Canada. Part of the City’s emerging public art program, the summit aims to develop resources for those interested in the practice of contemporary public art. In a series of programs, professionals in the field will present the broad range of perspectives that shape public art making today. Framed by current discussions happening at the intersection of contemporary art, public realm issues and urbanism, the summit features working models and case studies that address the challenges and opportunities faced by those working in this constantly evolving field.

The summit will occur over the course of nine weekly sessions, from October 13 through December 8, 2020, taking place every Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. through 3 p.m. (unless otherwise noted). All programs are free, online, and open to the public. Registration is required. All event times are EST.

The series will kick off with a special keynote speech by internationally celebrated artist Ken Lum. Please join us on Tuesday, October 13, from 1:30 p.m. through 3 p.m. The keynote is co-presented by Canadian Art.

In this special presentation, Ken Lum lays out the key points that public artists or persons interested in public art need to consider regarding the role of public art in society today. The keynote considers how public art is called upon to perform as a so-called public good, while at the same time it has become instrumentalized by administrative language. Lum presents these key points as an index of terms essential for every public artist to know. Lum will also speak about this moment as a “monuments’ moment” brought about by the unprecedented change to our collective existence under a global pandemic, which catalyzes a re-examination of public space and the institutions that govern it.

Ken Lum is an artist born and raised in Vancouver and currently based in Philadelphia. His work has been exhibited at documenta 11, the Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, Carnegie International, Whitney Biennial, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. He has produced public artworks in cities from Rotterdam to Burnaby, including his Monument for East Vancouver (2010) on Clark Avenue in Vancouver. Lum was recently awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2020), the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2020), and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. He is co-founder of Monument Lab and is the Marilyn Jordan Taylor Penn Professor in the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Department of Fine Art.

For summit details and to subscribe for updates, please visit the summit website.


Session 1: Keynote Presentation by Ken Lum
October 13, 1:30 – 3 p.m. EST
Registration click here

Session 2: Collaborative Process
October 20
Featuring: Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins, James Khamsi (DCSK), Stephen Richards (Streamliner Fabrication), Stefan Pilipa (Punchclock Metalworks Inc.)
Moderator: David Turnbull (Edmonton Arts Council)

Session 3: A Civic Role for Artists
October 27
Featuring: Carolyn Bowen (Watershed Planning, City of Calgary), Kendal Henry (PAIR, NYC Cultural Affairs) (TBC)
Moderator: Michèle Pearson Clarke (visual artist and Photo Laureate, City of Toronto)

Session 4: Art and Urban Planning
November 3
Featuring: Ellen Blumenstein (Imagine the City, Hamburg)
Moderator: Brenda Webster Tweel (Stantec)
Respondents: Parvathi Nampoothiri, Richard Fournier (City of Markham)

Session 5: Accessibility
November 10
Featuring: Paul Amenta (SiTE:LAB), Christopher Smit & Jill Vyn (DisArt) , Devon Ostrom (curator, artist, and advocate)
Moderator: Kevin Buist (independent curator and writer)

Session 6: Placemaking and Public Art
November 17
Featuring: Native Art Department International, Mary Anne Barkhouse (artist)
Moderator: Dr. Julie Nagam (University of Winnipeg, Nuit Blanche Toronto)

Session 7: Site-Specificity and Public Art
November 24
Featuring: Maggie Groat (artist), Paul Wong (artist), Randy Niessen (Public Art Program, City of Calgary)
Moderator: Annie Wong (artist)

Session 8: Temporary Programming
December 1
Featuring: Rina Greer (public art consultant), Jayne Wilkinson (Canadian Art) & Yan Wu (Markham Public Art), Ilana Altman (The Bentway), Tairone Bastien (Toronto Biennial of Art), Kari Cwynar (Evergreen Canada)
Moderator: Janine Marchessault (York University)

Session 9: The Digital Turn in Public Art
December 8
Featuring: Marc Boutin (MBAC), Jon Isherwood (Bennington College VT, Digital Stone Project), Ben Rubin (artist)
Moderator: Mitchell Chan (Studio F Minus)

Becoming Public Art is curated by Rebecca Carbin, Principal, ART+PUBLIC UnLtd, and Yan Wu, Public Art Curator, City of Markham.

Graphic design: Chris Lee
Copy Editing: Rosemary Heather

General inquiries:
Media inquiries: Yan Wu, Markham Public Art Curator

Markham’s Public Art Program was first initiated in 2003 and formalized in 2012. Since 2013, five permanent artworks have been commissioned through the program, with two more currently in progress. In addition, the program has facilitated a series of community art initiatives in collaboration with the City’s Public Realm section. In the fall of 2019, Markham City Council approved its Public Art Master Plan 2020-2024, and a related Implementation Plan in winter 2020. The objectives of the program are to inspire people to live, work, visit and invest in Markham; to celebrate the city’s diverse cultures and heritage from multiple points of view; and to connect residents to Markham’s built and natural environment. | @markhampublicart

Founded in 2018 by Rebecca Carbin, ART+PUBLIC UnLtd brings people to contemporary art in their everyday lives. ART+PUBLIC UnLtd is a boutique public art consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario with clients across Canada. Carbin and her team use a unique set of skills across curation, commissioning, project management and public engagement to bring public art programs to life.