Major natural events change our lives and shape how we think about nature. Living in this constant shifting and complex natural environment impacts how we relate to our landscape and to each other, before, during and after a major natural event. What role do we play in a dynamic environment and how does our relationship with nature further complicate these systems? How do we balance this reality with the emotive response we have to nature, to the city, and its spaces? These inquiries directed the development of the WATERSHED+ Dynamic Environment Lab.
In January 2016 The City of Calgary’s Public Art Program brought together artists Steve Gurysh, Tim Knowles, Becky Shaw, Peter Von Tiesenhausen and Stokley Towles to participate in the WATERSHED+ Dynamic Environment Lab, immersed for a week within the Utilities & Environmental Protection Department. The intention of the Lab was to foster innovative and collaborative public art practice, explore the complex relationships between citizens and their watershed, and support cross disciplinary methods of working by bringing artists, subject matter experts and members of the community together in a collective experience of Calgary’s dynamic environment. A thoughtfully considered program was laid out for the Lab, taking the participants on an expansive journey of Calgary’s watershed; going upstream to see the origins of Calgary’s headwaters at the Bow Glacier and downstream to Blackfoot Crossing to understand Calgary’s important role within the Bow River watershed, as well as visiting a number of key water infrastructure sites, many impacted by the 2013 flood.
The Lab served as a launch point for each of the artists, taking their learnings from that shared experience to develop individual projects that would offer them the opportunity to build and nurture relationships with City staff and other subject matter experts as they explored the impacts of our continuously shifting environment. This exhibition marks the culmination of the artists’ works as we reach the conclusion of the Dynamic Environment Lab.
Contemporary Calgary is pleased to present the WATERSHED+ Dynamic Environment Lab organized by The City of Calgary’s Public Art Program and Utilities & Environmental Protection Department, funded through the 1% For Art Policy.