Markham Public Art Presents Becoming Public Art: Placemaking and Public Art


Markham Public Art presents Becoming Public Art: Placemaking and Public Art

Please join us on Tuesday, November 17, from 1:30 – 3 PM EST for Placemaking and Public Art, featuring two presentations and a group discussion that explore land rights and public art practice considered through an indigenous perspective. Placemaking and Public Art is the sixth session of Becoming Public Art, a nine-week virtual summit presented by Markham Public Art in partnership with ART+PUBLIC UnLtd.

Native Art Department International (Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan)
Mary Anne Barkhouse, artist

Tania Willard, artist, curator, Assistant Professor at UBC Okanagan

Native Art Department International is the collaborative long-term project of Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan. It focuses on communications platforms and art-world systems of support, while at the same time functioning as an emancipation from essentialism and identity-based artwork. It seeks to circumvent easy categorization by comprising curated exhibitions, video screenings, panel talks, collective art making, and an online presence; however, all activities contain an undercurrent of positive progress through cooperation and non-competition.

When Maria and Jason created Native Art Department International in 2016, neither of them could have predicted the dramatic course of global events that would follow. We are now in an art world that reflects the broader debates regarding who is allowed to have presence and who is not, who is allowed to have shared experiences and who is not. In this context, the concerns of artists invested in creating spaces for being, seeing, speaking, and listening is of urgent importance. They will talk about their proposed Double Gazebo project (commissioned to be unveiled at the original, in-person iteration of Becoming Public Art) as a structure created to invite public involvement, the interruption of this project, and its eventual reintroduction into a changed public environment.

Mary Anne Barkhouse has strong ties to both coasts as her mother is from the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation of Alert Bay, BC, and her father is of German and British descent from Nova Scotia. A descendant of a long line of internationally recognized artists, including Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James, she graduated with Honours from the Ontario College of Art and has exhibited widely in Canada and the United States. Her work is in major collections across Canada.

Response to landscape is at the core of Mary Anne Barkhouse’s work. Engaging with multiple layers of history and disrupting the anthropocentric gaze, her installations offer vignettes through which we can view the environments that gave rise to indigenous cultures. While depiction of the “human” is not included in her sculptures, it is inferred through the interpretation of the species she portrays and their placement… and gives rise to questions surrounding occupation, land, authority and possible futures.

Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation and settler heritage, works within the shifting ideas around contemporary and traditional, often working with bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in intersections between Aboriginal and other cultures. Willard’s curatorial work includes the touring exhibition, Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (2012-2014), co-curated with Kathleen Ritter. In 2016 Willard received the Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art from the Hanatyshyn Foundation as well as a City of Vancouver Book Award for the catalogue for the exhibition Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Willard’s ongoing collaborative project BUSH gallery, is a conceptual land-based gallery grounded in Indigenous knowledges. Willard is an Assistant Professor at UBC Okanagan in Syilx territories and her current research intersects with land-based art practices.

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


Image 1: Mary Anne Barkhouse, ‘namaxsala, 2013. Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, QC. Photo credit: Eric Lillius. Courtesy of the artist.

Image 2: Native Art Department International, Double Gazebo concept rendering, 2020. Courtesy of the artists.

Becoming Public Art: Working Models and Case Studies for Art in Public is a nine-week virtual summit presented by the City of Markham in partnership with ART+PUBLIC UnLtd. In a series of virtual sessions co-curated by Rebecca Carbin, Principal, ART+PUBLIC UnLtd, and Yan Wu, Public Art Curator, City of Markham, 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.