Markham Public Art presents Becoming Public Art: A Civic Role for Artists


Markham Public Art presents Becoming Public Art: A Civic Role for Artists

Please join us on Tuesday, October 27, from 1:30 PM – 3 PM EDT for A Civic Role for Artists, the third session of Becoming Public Art, a nine-week virtual summit presented by Markham Public Art in partnership with ART+PUBLIC UnLtd. Through two case studies, the Watershed+ program hosted by the City of Calgary, and the Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) program, run by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the session will explore: How to integrate the artist into city infrastructure? Can the artist act as an urban problem solver? What is the civic role of the artist?

Carolyn Bowen, Manager, Watershed Planning, City of Calgary
Shirley Levy, Chief of Staff, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

Michèle Pearson Clarke, visual artist and Photo Laureate, City of Toronto

The event is free, online, and open to the public. Registration is required, click here.

Watershed+ is an innovative program, with a new model of working within a municipality and a goal of building a lasting and meaningful relationship between citizens and their watershed. By embedding artists within the organization, valuing their processes, and integrating it from the beginning of a project, it allows for the possibility of citizens to connect with nature in a way they haven’t before. This collaborative and multidisciplinary approach is not just about creating practical solutions. Rather, it strives to provoke, create intrigue, and reveal the complex systems that integrate a city and its watershed.

Carolyn Bowen has been with The City of Calgary for twenty years and is passionate about public service, public art and the environment. As Manager of Watershed Planning in the Water Utility, Bowen and her team ensure Calgary’s watershed is healthy today into the future, and resilient to floods and drought. Through education and outreach programs they connect citizens to our rivers. Bowen works with the Watershed Plus art program and has a MSc. and a Masters Certificate in Municipal Leadership.

Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) is a municipal residency program that embeds artists in city government to propose and implement creative solutions to pressing civic challenges. Launched in the fall of 2015, PAIR takes its inspiration and its name from the pioneering work of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the first official (unsalaried) artist-in-residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), 1977 – present. PAIR is based on the premise that artists are creative problem-solvers. They are able to create long-term and lasting impact by working collaboratively and in open-ended processes to build community bonds, open channels for two-way dialogue, and reimagine realities to create new possibilities for those who experience and participate in the work.

Michèle Pearson Clarke is a Trinidad-born artist, writer and educator who works in photography, film, video and installation. She is currently the inaugural 2020-2021 artist-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, and the Photo Laureate for the City of Toronto (2019-2022). As part of that role, she sits on the Mayor’s External Advisory Committee for ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021, which will kick-off the City’s new 10-Year Public Art Strategy.

Dale Hodges Park in Calgary, at once a stormwater facility, a public park, habitat restoration area and an art installation born out of The City of Calgary’s WATERSHED+ program, which brings together planners and engineers from Parks and Water Resources as well as artists from Public Art.

Becoming Public Art: Working Models and Case Studies for Art in Public is a nine-week virtual summit co-curated by Rebecca Carbin, Principal, ART+PUBLIC UnLtd, and Yan Wu, Public Art Curator, City of Markham. In a series of virtual sessions, professionals in the field will present the broad range of perspectives that shape public art making today.

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

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.

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 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.