Art brightens new BLUE bus line
Artists’ work featured along SW Transitway
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/03/2020 (927 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As spring sunlight reflects from a giant copper tea kettle near Beaumont Station on the new BLUE rapid transit line, it’s interesting to learn it’s more than a piece of public art.
Rooster Town Kettle and Fetching Water by Ian August is one of a number of art installations along the Southwest Transitway, thanks to a partnership between the Winnipeg Arts Council and Winnipeg Transit.
“Ian thought about Rooster Town, and the people who were forcibly removed from their land by the city government at the time,” said Alexis Kinloch, project manager with the Winnipeg Arts Council. “He didn’t want to re-traumatize people. Rooster Town has been portrayed in a pejorative way in news stories. He didn’t want to use any of those images.”
Instead, the artist dug deeper, looking for a way to consider what was a serious situation for the Métis living in Rooster Town, many of whom are still alive today, she said.
“The artists wanted their work to truthfully reflect the reality of our city’s difficult histories, but to also highlight the meaning of the communities who shared and thrived and the people at the heart of them,” Kinloch said. “In Ian’s case, he wanted to tell the story about how that community shared resources. The tea kettle is a symbol of how that community welcomed each other, but also makes note of the lack of access to clean water that many Indigenous communities still face today.”
Another piece is Tensai by Cindy Mochizuki and Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon of PFS Studio, located at Plaza Station. The art depicts elements of Japanese internment in Manitoba during the Second World War.
“Japanese people interned here by the government during World War II were put to work pulling sugar beets that were processed at the Manitoba Sugar Company factory that is still located near there,” Kinloch said. “It was a very laborious process. The art consists of yellow sugar beets in the ground, their stems pointing toward the bus shelter which has a watercolour painting of Japanese labourers pulling the leaves off the sugar beets. And this spring, cherry trees and landscaping will complete the artwork around that station.”
Other art works include Furrows in the Land by Jeanette Johns, ROW ROW ROW by Public City Architecture and Urban Ink, Salt Fat Sugar & Your Water is Safe by Bill Burns, (Un)Still Life with Spoked Wheels by Warren Carther, and Métis Land Use by Tiffany Shaw-Collinge.
“The art was conceived as telling the story of the region, through its history to now,” Kinloch said. “We put out a call to artists the concepts of the area’s ecological and civic histories, modes of transportation, north-south trails showing how people moved around historically, by Red River cart during the fur trade, and Indigenous and Métis experiences and histories.”
Slated for completion in April, the Southwest Transitway is an 11-kilometre dedicated roadway constructed to keep the BLUE rapid transit line separate from other traffic, allowing buses to travel at speeds up to 80 km/h. It connects passengers from stops downtown, carrying them to the University of Manitoba and St. Norbert and back.
The artists had to keep in mind that their audience might be travelling by bus, foot, bike or vehicle. That meant art had to be able to be read at high speed as well as contain complexity for extended viewing, Kinloch said.
“We want the art to reward continuing engagement,” she said. “The artists want the meaning of their work to evolve in peoples’ minds as they spend more time with it.”
Starting April 12, buses will travel along the Southwest Transitway in order to bypass congestion on Pembina Highway.