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Muttart Conservatory Public Art

The granite pyramid at the entrance to the Muttart Conservatory, in Edmonton, is called We Are Here. The pyramid’s four triangular-shaped faces of black granite feature two partial maps of Edmonton at different scales, a leaf skeleton, and a fern leaf, all carved into the stone.

This project was an extension of collaborative work Mia Weinberg had done previously with artist Kate Collie in Vancouver, juxtaposing natural and man-made networks: foliage and street maps. Once Mia had decided on the images for each pyramid face, she created a model and then, because working in stone was new to her, she consulted with Ves Vukovic of Stonemarks Engraving in Surrey BC. From the initial designs, Mia created a full-size drawing of each image. Ves and Mia travelled from Vancouver to Edmonton to engrave the four faces of the pyramid.

For each panel, they applied a self-adhesive resist material to the stone face and then adhered the drawings. They then carefully hand cut all of the lines and removed the stencil material from the areas that would be carved. Next, the panels were sandblasted. Then they painted the carved recesses before removing the rest of the stencil. The final removal of the stencil was an exciting moment: they saw each completed image revealed for the first time, rather like watching a photographic image appear in a darkroom developing tray.

The pyramid was unveiled in June 2009. For both Ves and Mia, this project has had a great impact. The fact that this project is in Edmonton is particularly significant to Ves because, in 1995 when he brought his young family to Canada to escape the troubles in Bosnia, it was in Edmonton that they first arrived. The inspiration Mia experienced working on this project has had a significant effect on her art practice, which had previously been primarily on paper and utilizing projected images. This project has led her to a new focus on public art projects.

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