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3 Must-See Public Art Installations this Summer

Public art Installation at the Bentway in Toronto

Embracing storytelling practices and interactive elements, these installations bring new life to the city.

By Ciara Heath

As an exceptional new initiative, ArtworxTO has committed to a year-long celebration of public art, supporting artists that speak to the diversity of Toronto. As a group, they strive to build new partnerships between the private sector and the art community, investing in access to public art in Toronto. While there are a great number of pieces that have enhanced our community as a result of this initiative, here are three installations you can’t miss — hurry, while they’re still on display!

A Place to Put Your Things

A swinging sculpture of two connected silhouettes facing lake ontario.
Sandra Brewster, A Place To Put Your Things, (2022). © Sandra Brewster

A meaningful addition to Toronto’s Queen’s Quay, Sandra Brewster’s A Place to Put Your Things celebrates playfulness and embracing one’s inner child. On display at 231 Queens Quay West, presented by The Power Plant at Harbourfront Centre, is on until September 30. This large-scale installation is an addition to her ongoing series, Smith. Referring to the common surname, this series recognizes that a shared name does not necessarily guarantee familial ties as people’s beliefs and behaviours separate them from one another.

As a Toronto-based artist, Brewster’s work has been notably featured at the AGO, Royal Ontario Museum and Prefix Museum. As Brewster’s first public art installation, the human-shaped swing is an intriguing departure from others in the series. Facing Lake Ontario, this swing mesmerizes passers by with its steady flow. Brewster invites people to “a place to rest and be at peace, to unburden oneself, and simply sway at one’s own pace and rhythm.”

I am Land

Tania Willard, Carrying Memories of the Land, Union Station
Tania Willard, Carrying Memories of the Land, (2022). Photo by Toni Hafkenschied

For commuters, I am Land in Union Station’s west wing could make your daily travels much more engaging. Curated by Toronto’s Maya Wilson-Sanchez, I am Land is a three-part series that explores an artist’s role as a chronicler. The third part of this series, I am Land that Speaks celebrates communities making their own history.

Collaborating with a range of artists, this exhibition looks at the destructive relationship people can have with the earth and what changes can be made to improve our joint existence. This series recognizes that as a public space, Union station can become an educational hub that represents our past, present and future.


Mimi Lien, Parade public art installation at the Bentway.
Mimi Lien, Parade, (2022). © Mimi Lien

As a vital public space for the community, Mimi Lien’s Parade has added to the ongoing interactive presence at the Bentway. Combining the ever-changing variables of the streetscape with the liveliness of the city, this installation uses a motorized conveyor-belt to create a space of simultaneous order and chaos.

Using everyday street objects such as traffic cones, stop signs and bike racks, passersby are immediately captivated by mundane objects swirling and soaring above them. Constantly moving along the conveyor-belt, these everyday objects take on a life of their own. As the traffic continues to soar by, the stillness of the viewers enchanted by the objects bring a sense of calm to the path below.

For more public art in Toronto, check out Get Inspired.

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