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Depressing or beautiful: art installation at Union Station stirring debate

Last Updated May 8, 2015 at 2:03 pm EDT

Stuart Reid's art installation at Union Station. SOURCE: stuartreid.ca
Summary

Toronto artist Stuart Reid was commissioned to create the art installation called Zones of Immersion.


The installation involves 160 panels around seven-feet tall.


As if the morning commute wasn’t bad enough with the subway breaking down and trains running behind schedule — it’s not a fun time.

Now add being forced to look at what some are calling depressing art, which can be seen while waiting for a train at Union Station.

Toronto artist Stuart Reid was commissioned to create the art installation, called Zones of Immersion, and said he was inspired by old sketches he made while riding the rocket.

The murals are supposed to capture the feeling of riding the subway, which some would say seems fitting because one of the pieces appears to show a woman crying.

The installation involves 160 panels around seven-feet tall, and over 500 sheets of glass were involved in creating the pieces.

Stuart Reid’s art installation at Union Station. SOURCE: stuartreid.ca

 

The black-and-white charcoal sketches outlines people with no real features, and there isn’t a lot of colour. But, maybe, that is the point.

“It’s sort of the mystery of the human presence that you’re trying to evoke through the drawing,” Reid said in a YouTube video that explains the project. “It creates this thing that is very alive.”

“The image changes as you walk by it, and as somebody walks behind it, or as the train goes behind it, it’s constantly shifting,” he added.

However, critics on social media are not impressed with the artwork, including Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, who tweeted that they’re “ugly as hell” and “scary to boot.”

But, in his video explainer, Reid said he hopes the artwork will “communicate that we’re all valuable, that we all have some sort of infinite depth and worth,” and that people are “deeply beautiful just as human beings.”

“It’s about the every day, having this incredible quality of being alive … even in a space as isolated and alienating as a subway.”

Reid was paid $160,000 for “services and expenses” relating to his work, the Toronto Star reported citing the TTC, but the cost of installation was included in the station’s overhaul.

Watch a video below of Reid explaining the art installation, or click here for a mobile-friendly device.

What do you think of the art work? Below is some online reaction:

With files from Geoff Rohoman and Steve McCann