GAGL 2017

Communities & Installations

Artist: John Williams

Visit artwork at
Maawn Doosh Gumig Aamjiwnaang Community Centre
1972 Virgil Ave,
Sarnia, ON


Artist: Nicole Clouston

Visit artwork at
Hamilton Public Library
55 York Blvd, Hamilton,
ON L8N 4E4

Lake Ontario Portrait

Artist: Andy Berg

Visit artwork at
The Tett Centre, Kingston

Morton Way, Kingston,
ON K7L 2X4

Aqua Viva

Artist: Vanessa Logan

Visit artwork at
Small Arms Inspection Building
1352 Lakeshore Blvd

Mi Lake

Artist: Julia White

Visit artwork at
Grey County Municipal Offices
595 9th Ave E, Owen Sound
ON N4K 3E3

The Ripple Project


Visit artwork at
Providence Bay Village Square Park
5263, ON-551, Providence Bay,
ON P0P 1T0

Stories of the Lake


Visit artwork at Mariner’s Hall, Marina Park
2201 Sleeping Giant Parkway, Unit 100,
Thunder Bay, ON P7A 0E7

Threading Water


Visit artwork at
Ontario Science Centre, Toronto
770 Don Mills Rd, North York,
ON M3C 1T3

Deep Blue

Artist: Pixels and Plans

COMMUNITY FLOW is an interactive digital artwork that showcases the eight Great Art for Great Lakes participatory art projects.

Community Flow

GREAT ART FOR GREAT LAKES (GAGL) 2017 involved eight community participation projects that focused on ideas that evoke a sense of celebration and highlight the grandeur of the Great Lakes, and its connection to its people, their history, and diverse cultures. Through a series of public workshops or actions, each community worked toward the co-creation of a permanent artwork as part of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.


Meet The 2017 Artists

Nicole Clouston HAMILTON

Hamilton Community Art Project: Lake Ontario Portrait

Lake Ontario Portrait will bring together the community of Hamilton to share memories of Lake Ontario, conversations surrounding the liveliness of the lake, and our responsibilities towards it. Working together, we will create a wall-based sculpture that takes mud as its medium. Community members will be invited to bring a sample of mud from a location along the lake that is meaningful to them. The mud will then be place in clear prisms, along with nutrients that encourage microbial growth. Once exposed to light, the microbial life naturally present in the mud will begin to flourish, becoming visible in the form of brightly coloured marbling. Each sculpture will grow differently, featuring different tones, depending on the location along the lake it was collected from. These meaningful pieces of soil will come together to form Lake Ontario Portrait – a continuously growing and shifting representation of the lake and our relationship with it.


Kingston Community Art Project: Aqua Viva

Aqua Viva is a community art project which will be led by Kingston sculptor, Andy Berg to engage in the discovery, celebration and fostering of our special relationship to the waters of our own Great Lake, Lake Ontario. Berg will engage the community in her creative processes to collectively sculpt the Great Art for Great Lakes (GAGL) collaborative low-relief ceramic wall work entitled Aqua Viva, which will be housed in the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning.

Berg’s collaborative process of honouring our Great Lakes will first engage volunteer participants in the direct discovery of Lake Ontario through encounters that will include walking along the shoreline, sensing and “reading” our Great Lake water world, story-telling, and gathering of information through sketching, journalling and natural found objects. From this, the community will use this accumulated knowledge and wisdom to connect with the essence of Lake Ontario through the creation of community elements in stoneware clay as an hommage to the beauty and generosity of our own Great Lake. Guided by Andy Berg, the community will visually illuminate elemental aspects of Lake Ontario and in particular, revision the symbolism and environmental importance of a key stone species, the Beaver, which happens to live right here in Kingston along our lake waterfront!

Through Aqua Viva, the Kingston community will creatively discover and support an interconnected world of water and Nature, as a way for all citizens to honour and celebrate Lake Ontario in the Ontario and Canada 2017 sesquicentennial and beyond.

Julieanne Steedman PROVIDENCE BAY

Providence Bay (Manitoulin Island) Community Art Project: Stories of the Lake

Julieanne is a visual artist from Northern Ontario. Working with acrylics, watercolour, and ink; her work explores the connection between land and place.

Ms.Steedman spent ten years living around the globe, learning about herself and finally finding the perfect place to call home; right back where she started in Northern Ontario. For her, there is an affection and tenderness in the connection between the place she came from, where she has been, and who she is. Creating, whether it be through visual or another form of art, is a way of making sense of what life throws at her: the joy, the obstacles, the beauty, and the hardships.

For this project, Julieanne looks forward to working with the local community to create meaningful artwork that will share history, build connections and tell a story; the story that the lake has to share. This collaborative work will celebrate the small truths and hidden miracles of our northern environment – it’s history, people, and landscape.


Mississauga Community Art Project: Mi Lake

I have always been drawn to images of the past. Their raw honesty and beauty draw me in and make me yearn to learn more. Who were they? What were their life experiences like? I find it fascinating to watch how history is often dug up in fragments – artifacts that when studied together can form a history of place, or tell the story of a life lived. They inform us greatly about the present by giving us a stronger understanding of the path that came before.

My work draws greatly on vintage and antique ephemera – physical reminders of the past that I reconstitute into sculpture or composed images. I work often with vintage slides, mostly family slides that have been handed down to me. The act of sifting through images and feeling that personal connection to the people displayed within them are my favourite (and I believe most important parts) of my process. My goal is to breathe new life into those memories; to take objects and images that have long been put away in boxes and weave them together to create something new.

The final works are image rich and dense, inviting exploration. They present viewers with a non-linear story which encourages them to create narratives of their own. While the original subject matter often begins as very personal to me, my goal is to spark connections with the viewer, whether it be a connection to their family, their community or simply a shared curiosity to dig deeper.

Julia White OWEN SOUND

Owen Sound Community Art Project: Water Columns

I celebrate the mystery of water in my work, how it nourishes and inspires, calms, renews and refreshes us, flows in the undercurrents of our beings, sustains our world. My most recent body of work WATER Shadows is an installation of sound sculptures that features field recordings of watery places in the South Georgian Bay area. The unique steel sculptures are wrapped and woven out of old bicycle inner tubes, collected locally. For Great Art for Great Lakes I offer an installation of WATER Columns, laser-cut steel sculptures lit from within with watery blue light.  The Owen Sound community is invited into the creative flow through a series of Maker Days that will take place within the sculptural landscape of WATER Shadows. We will listen as water speaks for itself, in its own language, deeper than words.  As participants in this dialogue, we will draw water, make waves, paint watery feelings and share stories of what our Great Lake Huron means to us.  I will photo-document these creative expressions of water, then weave design elements from each personal contribution into one flowing whole. This will then be laser-cut into steel and illuminated.  A web Water Portal will be an online ‘container’ for the images and written odes to water.  Field recordings from WATER Shadows of local watery soundscapes will be accessible as well.  It is my hope that through the creation of WATER Columns together, we may dissolve boundaries and allow for a rich interplay of voices to be heard.

John Williams + Jill Joseph AAMJIWNAANG

Aamjiwnaang First Nation Community Art Project

Destined for Greatness–The Great Lakes Project.
John began drawing at an early age; heavily influenced by his beloved grandmother. John’s passion for exploration, learning and living off the land he also attributes to his grandmother. Her beadwork and traditional knowledge is still spoken of in Aamjiwnaang. Her legacy continues through John’s art. Primarily self-taught, John’s subjects are centered on his Indigenous heritage. “Love of art is not only my passion, but my way of life” –John Williams.

Villages were often erected next to a water source as all living things depend on water for survival. The tree will be encircled to signify Earth Mother; the provider of the Water of Life. Plants, animals, and humankind all depend on water for survival. Aamjiwnaang is situated along the shores of the St. Clair River, within the boundaries of the City of Sarnia, Ontario. Aamjiwnaang is commonly known as “the place at the spawning stream – where the water flows spiritually like a braid.” – Chief Joanne Rogers

There is no separation of water and the people of Aamjiwnanng; we all stand united in our duty to protect our sacred resource, Niibish (water). Our unique community has grown to approximately 2,300 members. The tree will be formed with the handprints of our Elders as the roots and branches of family members to signify the generations of growth. The community participation will showcase the connection of our people, history, and legends to the Great Lakes.

Betty Carpick THUNDER BAY

Thunder Bay Community Art Project: Threading Water

All of our actions have an echo in the water. For this community-engaged arts project, I’m inviting people to tell stories about relationships to water to create a collaborative quilt-like assemblage. During five free public maker sessions, people of all ages and abilities can use embroidery and fabric paints with a water-inspired palette to present images and words that reflect their connection to Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. Sensory prompts, music, and poetry will help spark ideas and dialogue. The 144 cotton squares will be stitched onto a grid of a 7’ x 7’ ink drawing of the Great Lakes on fabric. Underneath each square, participants can write their thoughts with the choice of stitching it so their words can be private or public. A selection of photographs of the process of making will accompany the installed assemblage.

As a multi-disciplinary artist, arts educator and environmentalist of Cree heritage from Northern Manitoba, living beside Lake Superior for over two decades has strengthened my relationship to the land and the water. My work looks at social, cultural, and environmental issues in both serious and playful ways. The processes and the improvisations along the way provide opportunities to imagine, experiment, dismantle, connect, and weave art mediums and arts practices into beautiful and meaningful explorations.

For me, community-engaged arts is an opportunity to create and share a springboard for creativity, skill development, camaraderie, and storytelling in an accessible, friendly, and non-threatening way. I truly believe that just one new idea or interaction can create positive, long-lasting change.

Labspace TORONTO

Toronto Community Art Project: Deep Blue

DEEP BLUE, a participatory, community-based art project proposed by Labspace Studio in collaboration with Daniel Ranger, a junior ambassador for the Great Lakes Trust, was the winning submission for Toronto. The collaborative art installation celebrates the beauty, ecology and majestic depths of Lake Ontario. On August 6 and 13, Labspace Studio and Daniel will be onsite to conduct origami workshops in Inventorium. Visitors will be invited to contribute to the installation by creating origami shapes that depict various Lake Ontario species. When complete, the installation will go on permanent display in the Living Earth exhibit hall.

Labspace Studio is a Toronto-based artist collective and creative studio founded in 2007 by collaborators John Loerchner and Laura Mendes. Using the city as their laboratory and playground they explore the intricate connections between people and places, often examining the dualism between natural and urban environments. Their projects are often participatory and site-driven, incorporating elements of installation, sculpture, multimedia and public-generated content. Their work has been presented in Canada and abroad in galleries, public parks, shopping malls, festivals, public transit, storefronts, and city streets.

Daniel Ranger loves to sail and swim and is a junior ambassador for Great Lakes Trust ( He has a keen interest in environmental issues and has participated in several Bioblitzes, working alongside biologists to collect and catalogue species in the Humber River, Credit Valley, and Don River watersheds. His first public art project, “SOS: Save Our Shells,” was an intervention on behalf of snails for Grow Op 2017 at the Gladstone Hotel. The installation, consisting of more than 500 origami snails in mini ecosystems and snail crossings also crafted from paper, drew attention to what is beautiful, fragile, and unseen in the urban wilderness. Daniel will be in grade 7 in Fall 2017.