summer art

the following is a blog post written by Mahri White

Mahri White installing 100.5 Arthur

This summer I was hired by Artspace (aka, Eric), to “mark up” the building as their Special Projects Associate. I was to make art for the space- the artspace! 

I tasked myself with two projects over the course of this summer. The first project was a text and print installation in one of the building’s two stairwells. This work blends history, fiction and the metaphoric symbolism of windows (as portals, a way for voices, thoughts, ideas to pass from inside to outside or from one space to another). The texts double as markers for each floor; so each floor of the building has a small piece of a story to accompany it- hah!

I added in some jokes, some rhymes, and some actual facts. This project was mainly meant for the tenants of artspace, the folks who work here year-round.  Hopefully, all the writers in the building don’t get distracted by my less than perfect grammar. For a better sense of this work, try taking the stairs from the basement to the 6th floor if you are able. If not, take the elevator to any floor and pop into one of the stairwells. My personal favorites are 2 and 4. 

My second project was completed this week- I worked to transform the vestibule on Arthur St. into a strange little garden. This garden was special though, because it was installed on the ceiling as an homage to my favorite childhood game- the “put mummy’s hand mirror under your nose and pretend to walk on the ceiling” game. I spent a lot of time thinking about why I wanted to make this. I came to a few conclusions. 

  1. It would be fun.
  2. It’s more exciting than the previous (beige). 
  3. It’s something that everyone can enjoy (hopefully….though the color could give people migraines). 

Bring your own mirror down, and play my favorite game!

All is fun, but this project has got me thinking more about my role as an artist, especially under the public art category.  I think that my intentions for the vestibule were good, as I just wanted people to have a surprise, or discovery when walking past. But I also recognize that this is downtown, and many spaces like these could be reliable points of shelter. I did not change this, but I did disrupt it and make it more visible, or, loud? I’m wondering if that is something that needs to be considered in the future, as more and more artists occupy spaces that sometimes are not theirs.  

This awareness is something I want to bring forward through my practice now, as I work harder on this kind of consideration. When I was hired, I thought my job would be relatively simple, but it was far from that. I feel so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to spread my work through an entire building, and it is something that I won’t stop thinking about, even though my position has come to an end. 

I am excited to see what next years SPA has to offer Artspace. It’s was an excellent opportunity, I feel sad to be finished and to be saying goodbye to the amazing staff here. I will be visiting frequently, mainly to see if my garden needs watering. If you happen to be walking by, can you also check it? In case I forget or can’t reach.