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Meet the artists creating new work at Evergreen Brick Works – and tackling equity in public space

We’re pleased to announce that artists Kristin Li and Logan MacDonald will be presenting new public art commissions at Evergreen Brick Works this fall.

Published on August 25, 2020

This summer, Evergreen launched a  Call to Artists for public art projects addressing issues of equity in public space. Through the current global impacts of COVID-19 and protests in support of Black Lives Matter, artists were invited to dive into ideas around access to public space and respond to widespread inequities in parks and streetscapes across the city. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we received over 60 diverse applications from across the country with many exceptional proposals. We thank all of the wonderful artists who applied. Through a comprehensive selection process, the jury - artist Amy Lam, Canadian Art writer and features editor Yaniya Lee, and AGO Curator of Indigenous Art, Wanda Nanibush - selected artists Kristin Li and Logan MacDonald.

Kristin Li

Kristin Li Evergreen Brick Works

Kristin Li was born in Chengdu, China, and currently works in Toronto and Montreal. As an emerging filmmaker and multimedia artist, Li creates experimental narratives, animations, documentaries and installations that explore contemporary formations of power.

Li’s project will engage the voices of and stories from incarcerated people in Ontario, who are invited to share writings and drawings on their daily lived experiences as well as on urgent topics such as recent prison strikes and pandemic responses. Li will present the stories in the form of a newspaper. Over the fall and winter, visitors can find Li’s newspaper in a traditional newsstand installed at Evergreen Brick Works, which offers the shared experience of reading in public.

newspaper sketch - evergreen brick works newspaper display case
Early mockup of Kristin Li's project.

For Li, this piece challenges the spatial logic of the carceral system, which maintains social order by removing certain people from common environments and dropping them somewhere else: inside enclosed structures, often in remote regions. "I want to foreground the presence of people who, locked away in the name of public safety, cannot physically access public spaces like the Don River Valley." The newspaper format and ongoing dispatches present prisons as places where people’s lives are happening simultaneously to life on the outside—as opposed to a distant margin beyond which ‘criminals’ simply disappear from view.

See more of Kristin Li's work here.

Logan MacDonald

Logan MacDonald is an artist, curator, writer, educator and activist who focuses on queer, disability and Indigenous perspectives. He is of European and Mi’kmaq ancestry, and identifies with both his Indigenous and settler roots.

MacDonald’s two-part project draws attention to historical and ongoing restrictions for Indigenous peoples in the area regarding access to traditional lands, trade routes, resources and sustenance.

In the first part of the project, MacDonald proposes a series of woven clay baskets supported by bricks. Addressing the history of resource extraction in the Don Valley, MacDonald aims to subvert the industrial-colonial reasons that this clay was extracted for bricks in the first place and use them as secondary materials that support the Indigenous approach to creating structures through weaving. He writes that the intent is to visually insert into the landscape and revisit potential Indigenous activities, legacies, and traditional-productions of Waasayishkodenayosh.

paw paw
Fruit on a native pawpaw tree.

The second part of MacDonald’s work focuses on pawpaw trees and the ways in which green spaces are controlled through colonialism. "Inspired by human-made parks in the efforts to present a vision of what nature once was, I feel there is an encoded messaging in how public parks are maintained, which continues to support the colonial goal of Indigenous erasure.” MacDonald addresses the lack of native fruit-bearing trees in Toronto and draws connections to this absence as an erasure of Indigenous culture in public spaces. The project is meant to demark an anti-colonial monument where planting pawpaw trees will attempt to reclaim this land as an engagement site for Indigenous people by providing plants that offer sustenance, or at the very least symbolically honour a time when this land nourished Indigenous people in Southern Ontario.

See more of Logan MacDonald’s work here.

Kristin Li and Logan MacDonald’s projects bring forward important voices and stories that have often been silenced in Toronto’s public spaces. Both artists are currently working with Evergreen’s art team to prepare the final versions of their projects for presentation this fall. Please stay tuned for further updates.