Winnipeg Arts Council

Connecting Roots Along the Red River: Public Art on the BLUE Rapid Transit Line

The public artworks created for the BLUE Rapid Transit Line tell stories and evoke ideas around ecology and natural history, historic north-south trails, civic planning, and Indigenous land experiences and histories. Following the river, the people, and their interactions in this area over time, these artists weave and connect the meanings of routes in the Red River region and the neighbourhoods of Fort Garry.

Beaumont Station


Ian August's  Rooster Town Kettle recalls stories of warmth and sharing from the history of the Rooster Town community: "When there was a knock at the door the immediate response was to should, 'comin in, there's room' while jumping up to put the kettle on for tea." The sculpture also addresses how a population of 250 people living on the fringe of a Canadian city could have such unacceptable lack of access to clean water, an issue that is still relevant to so many Canadians living on reserves today.

McGillivray Overpass and Seel Station


Jeanette Johns'  Furrows on the Land (The Field) and  Furrows in the Land (The Wheel) responds to the history of collective movement in Winnipeg and innovations in technology that came about through a unique mix of entrepreneurial spirit and necessity, specifically recalling the journeys travelled near what is now Pembina Highway by the Red River ox cart and Winnipeg's streetcar system.

Clarence Station


ROW ROW ROW  by Public City Architecture and Urban Ink was inspired by the signeurial lot system that was used to divide settled land in Fort Garry, and throughout Winnipeg, into long, narrow properties running from the river and into the adjacent prairies.

Chevrier Station


Salt Fat Sugar & Your Water is Safe  by Bill Burns considers food, animals, and the farm in relation to the commons, trade, and spiritual traditions. The artist is especially interested in invoking basic elements of life and survival such as water, salt, fat, and sugar. With this artwork, Burns attempts to shed light on a set of historical, social, and economic relations within advanced industrialism that often go unnoticed.

Plaza Station


テンサイ (Tensai) by Cindy Mochizuki and Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon (PFS Studio)explores the relationship between the sugar beet and Japanese Canadian history. This artwork site is adjacent to the historic Manitoba Sugar Company building and calls into question the narratives that are 'unseen' to the public eye, such as the history of 4,000 of the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were stripped of their rights and interned during WWII.

Bishop Grandin Overpass and Chancellor Station


Warren Carther's  (Un)Still Life with Spoked Wheels was envisioned through research of the historical transportation routes from Winnipeg to the U.S. and the incredible ingenuity of the Red River cart. Designed by the Métis people, the Red River cart was the first mode of transportation used in the fur trade to take goods south along a route that is still used today.

Markham Station


In  Métis Land Use, Tiffany Shaw-Collinge explores the land rights for Métis people. One part of the artwork highlights the Red River region around 1870 and cartographies around harvesting hay, Red River carts, berry picking, hunting, and sugaring to discuss long-standing use and occupancy of land by the Métis people. The other part focuses on Métis scrip and points to a critical chapter in how land rights were given to Métis people after 1885 and the government's advancement of extinguishing Aboriginal title for the Métis.

Read the original Call to Artists to learn about the sites and concepts to which the artists were responding.

The integration of artwork into Winnipeg's Rapid Transitway is the first project of its kind in our city. Through this public-private partnership, the Winnipeg Arts Council commissioned these artworks in collaboration with Winnipeg Transit, PCL, and Plenary Group. 

In the media:

Ian August

Ian August is a Métis artist based in Winnipeg. He received his MFA from York University, and his BFA, honours from the University of Manitoba’s School of Art. His work has been the subject of many solo exhibitions, including Plunder Dupes, Actual Gallery, Winnipeg; and Re: Build Them, Gallery 1C03, Winnipeg. His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions.

Jeanette Johns

Jeanette Johns is an artist who grew up in Winnipeg and currently resides in Montreal. Her practice is rooted in the act of observation with a particular interest in two-dimensional representations of space. Johns has taken part in exhibitions and residencies across Canada and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include To Step is to Rise at Lisa Kehler Art + Projects in Winnipeg and The Weight of the Earth's Curve at Arprim in Montreal. Collections include TD Bank, Bibliotheque et archives Nationales du Quebec and the Crown Collection. Johns holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba and an MFA from Concordia University. She is currently in Residence at Le Fonderie Darling until 2022.

Public City Architecture

PUBLIC CITY ARCHITECTURE is an urban building and site architecture studio founded by principals Peter Sampson and Liz Wreford in Winnipeg. Architect and Landscape Architect respectively, the principals merged their design practices into one studio in 2016. The firm is known for its pursuit of winter urbanism, pleasure, and a driving commitment to the quality of multi-seasonal public realms. Public City has projects currently active in Manitoba, Alberta, and Ontario. With a portfolio of work that is colourful, ecological, playful, and disciplined, Public City has been identified by Azure and the Globe & Mail as one of Canada’s most exciting and distinct emerging design practices.

URBAN INK

Marcelle Lussier founded URBAN INK. She has been a guest speaker at the Art Now series hosted by the University of Manitoba, has hosted letterpress workshops and is an active member of the mentorship program at Red River College. Her love of typography, illustration, the craft of printmaking, and value of close collaboration and communication continues to guide her team’s direction today and is the foundation on which are achieved practical solutions for both client and studio.

Bill Burns

Bill Burns was born into a book selling family in Regina, Saskatchewan. He received an MA from Goldsmiths College in London where he worked with Gerard Hemsworth and John Latham. Since that time his work about nature and civil society has been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul. He has published more than a dozen artist books and audio recordings with publishers such as Walther Konig in Cologne and Space Poetry in Copenhagen. He has been Artistic Director of the Dogs and Boats and Airplanes choir since 2010.

Cindy Mochizuki

Cindy Mochizuki creates multi-media installation, audio fiction, performance, animation, drawings and community-engaged projects. Her works explore the manifestation of story and its complex relationships to site-specificity, the transpacific, invisible histories, archives, and memory work. She has exhibited, performed and screened her work in Canada, US, Australia, and Asia.

Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon

Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon is a landscape architect (PFS Studio) and artist whose work focuses on the creation of public spaces that merge cultural, social and environmental ecologies. Her writing, design and studio-based practices all deal with landscape-related phenomena – from sugar production and cultural landscapes to hefted sheep, genetic mutation and urban bestiaries.

Warren Carther

Warren Carther is a Winnipeg-based contemporary glass artist. His work negotiates the line between abstraction and representation and is informed by various elements from nature and the densely built environments of human urbanity. The works emerge from the social and cultural context in which they are placed for people to experience in their everyday lives. Since his professional art practice began in 1980, he has produced more than one hundred site-specific installations world-wide. His artwork is featured at five international airports including the Charles de Galle Airport in Paris. His sculpture can also be found in other significant buildings including the Canadian Embassies in Tokyo and London.

Tiffany Shaw-Collinge

Tiffany Shaw-Collinge is an interdisciplinary artist, curator and architect based in Alberta. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from NSCAD University and a Master of Architecture from SCI-Arc. Oscillating between digital and analogue methodologies, Tiffany’s work gathers notions of craft, memory and atmosphere. Her practice is often guided by communal interventions as a way to engage a lifted understanding of place. Among her public art projects, Tiffany has produced several notable transitory art works and is a core member of Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective. While born in Calgary and raised in Edmonton, Tiffany’s Métis lineage derives from Fort McMurray via Fort McKay and the Red River.

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