Arts

When it opens, students can expect to see artwork while waiting for the LRT. Photo: Rame Abdulkader.

Artist cuts through red tape to have work showcased at U of O LRT station

While completion of the much-anticipated Light Rail Train (LRT) continues to experience delays, the construction on the tracks isn’t the only project that students can hope to see finalized in the coming months.

Tucked away beside the bike path at the University of Ottawa’s LRT station, is an art project that artist Kenneth Emig has been working on this summer.

The project, titled “Sphere Field,” will be a large specialty-glass cube that will contain a lighted stainless steel sphere, which aims to transform the area into an experience of illusionary expansive space.

“My art is an expression of person, my curiosity—and I hope to evoke that level of curiosity in people,” explained Emig.

Emig is a self-taught trans-disciplinary artist based in Ottawa, who works to integrate sound, sculpture, dance, and technology into his artistic practise, in hopes of presenting a maximum output of sensory experience for all who view his pieces.

Other notable works that he has created include “A View From Two Sides,” which can be found at the Rideau river crossing bridge.

“(‘A View From Two Sides’ is) a reflection of an exterior space, and ‘Sphere Field’ will be a reflection of an interior space. When you are on top of the hill … on Somerset East, in fall or winter … you can actually see the bridge … (and) both public artworks at the same time from the same location.”

However, getting to the point where he was able to make ‘Sphere Field’ wasn’t easy. Emig explained to the Fulcrum that getting a public artwork approved by the City is a vigorous process.

“I (had) 3 engineers involved in my project … because their stamps (had) to go on the (blueprint) drawing.” The application then was evaluated by a peer-review jury, and upon approval, was funded by the ‘Percent for Art’ program, which dedicates one percent of its funding toward public art programs.

But red tape wasn’t the only challenge that Emig faced. He told the Fulcrum that one of the other big challenges that he faced was the difference in scale between his original conception of the project, when he was still in the planning process, and what it is turning out to be in reality. “It’s one of the things I find interesting about doing public art,” he said.

When asked what the ‘Sphere Field’ was meant to represent, Emig responded that “it’s not about representing, its about offering an opportunity for experience.”

Emig encourages aspiring artists to consider that “the project is a function of process,” and try “not predefining these outcomes that become a project.”

“You go through the process, and then end up somewhere, and that somewhere is completely different from where you started when you (were) doing an artistic exploration. I think … that (the) willingness to go (is what keeps the artwork moving forward),” he said.

“I hope that my artwork at the University of Ottawa (campus) makes people want to pause and consider (the piece when) going by,” explained Emig. “It will change a little bit, and look a little different in daytime than it will at night, because light really influences how it works.”

‘Sphere Field’ is scheduled for completion in the next two months. For students hoping to see the construction in action, the work can be seen looking north of the bike path, and is also showcased on Emig’s Twitter page.