High Five

Artist: Jennifer Stillwell
Program: Commission
Location: Waterfront Drive
Medium: Stainless steel
Date: 2014

Description

High Five, created by artist Jennifer Stillwell, consists of five “wings” or “fins”, over 25 feet tall, that from a distance read as an abstracted human hand. The artist took the complex site elements into consideration when creating the work: the steep slope of the riverbank, the proximity to the ball park, and the vehicular and active transportation of Waterfront Drive. The artwork was originally commissioned as part of the redevelopment of Waterfront Drive and the project has been managed by the Winnipeg Arts Council on behalf of the City of Winnipeg.

“The piece is site-specific, so it is not only a series of objects to consider, but it also works to refer back to the place it is installed. It is installed between the river and the baseball diamond on a slope, and I initially interpreted these site attributes in order to visualize the form. I also considered that the site has the movement of road and sidewalk traffic, as well as the stationary audience of the baseball diamond, so the artwork became about acknowledging those changes in audience perspective. From a closer perspective the pieces can be considered as wings or fins in formation while from distant points in the baseball diamond that perspective of the piece flattens out and the shape becomes like an abstracted human hand. Even though the size of the pieces are all the same, I worked with the slope in order to create the shape of a human hand from a distance.

The targets have multiple meanings – they playfully address the baseball diamond and the home run potential of hitting the art, their placement on the form approximates a roundel on an airplane wing, and through their consideration from the perspective of the ballpark, they transform into an abstract fingerprint. From inside the ballpark the target graphics also have a visual and conceptual relationship to the advertising graphics along the outfield walls. In contrast, the polished surface that faces the river is meant to look back at the natural site. While the neutral lower surface on both sides of each piece visually reinforces the slope with a level surface cutting through all the pieces.

The work allows the opportunity for people to interpret it from the wider context of our culture and from their own experiences in order to find and discuss meaning. I wanted to create an artwork where image and meaning are not fixed but flexible with   perspective changes and movement.” Jennifer Stillwell, artist.

Artist Biography

Jennifer Stillwell is a Canadian contemporary visual artist who primarily works with sculpture and installation. In 2000 she received an MFA with distinction from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has since exhibited widely. She has created large-scale installations at the Darling Foundry (Montreal) and at Triple Candie (New York). Other solo exhibitions include YYZ Artists' Outlet (Toronto) and a survey show at Plug In ICA (Winnipeg). In the last few years she has been a part of group exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Europe including at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Oakville Galleries, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Mendel Art Gallery and Loop-Raum Fur Aktuelle Kunst in Berlin. She has attended residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Banff), Gibraltar Point (Toronto), Kunst & Complex (Rotterdam), Fondation Derouin (Quebec) and Quartier éphémère (Montreal). Among many distinctions, Stillwell was a semi-finalist for the preeminent Sobey Art Award in both 2002 and 2006.

Jennifer grew up in Manitoba and attended the School of Art at the University of Manitoba. She remained an active Winnipeg artist until her recent relocation to Victoria, BC where she is a full time Faculty member at the University of Victoria in the Department of Visual Arts.

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