Creativity for Prosperity; Art as Research
The Art@MPI collection uses multi-media art to stimulate ideas, research, and dialogue over the nexus of creativity, diversity and prosperity across the world. The collection acquires and commissions art from young, emerging artists.
The art collection was made possible by the generous donation of Margaret and Jim Fleck. It was curated by David Moos, former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Judy Schulich, president of Blueprint:DNA.
Silhouette Portraits, 2008-2009
graphite and gouache on paper
12” x 9” each
This series of drawings presents a profile of Toronto as a global city. After brief interviews with randomly selected Torontonians, artist Carter Kustera produced these silhouette portraits accompanied by the subject’s name and brief self- description. Grouped together, these works delineate the colourful diversity and internationalism of the population of our city and encourage viewers to question how our differences contribute to prosperity and success. They also promote a self-awareness of how our own prejudices influence our judgments about ethnicity, class, and cultural identity.
New York City-based Kustera was born in Sault Ste. Marie and educated at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He has been the recipient of many important accolades such as Canada Council arts grants and New York Foundation for the Arts awards and his work has been exhibited regularly since 1986, often at important institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art’s P.S.1 and the Aldrich Museum. Included in the most prestigious art-world event, the Venice Biennale, in both 1993 and 1997, Kustera’s work also has true crossover appeal and reached mass audiences through a computer animation project he produced for U2’s “Pop Mart” world tour stage show in 1997. Collections as diverse as that of SPIN Magazine, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Vatican have acquired his pieces.
Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins
mixed media (plastic, powder coated metal, mechanical and electronic components)
29.5” x 64” x 7”
Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins inject intelligent humour and Pop culture into conceptual art. Working together since 2000, they utilize mass-produced components from the commercially designed and industrially built world to comment on our increasingly digital and consumerist culture. Like much of their work, this piece, titled Google, implicates viewers and passers-by, whether they agree to participate or not. Reflecting the manner in which internet search engines watch users and record their behaviour for unclear purposes, these giant, child-like “googley” eyes use hidden electronic technology to watch people as they pass through the hallway. The need for this kind of constant surveillance, in both the physical world and the digital world, seems to increase with growing development. Security cameras are now pervasive in many cosmopolitan cities such as downtown London where they watch practically every corner. Brazenly comedic in its play on words and cute physical gesture, this artwork suggests viewers consider the ambiguous reasons for the omnipresent surveillance and data collection we are subjected to everyday. Though slightly sinister and disturbing, this ability allows our corporations and governments to process information about our culture and behaviours and better understand how to make communities and societies prosper.
Marman and Borins graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2001 and their creative collaboration has resulted in exhibitions of their work in prestigious institutions in Canada (including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa) and around the world in cities such as Sao Paulo, Madrid, and Hong Kong.
6 minute stop motion animation
Kristan Horton creates artworks in diverse media that examine aspects of translation, imitation and transformation. In 2008, this animation titled Cig2Coke2Tin2Coff2Milk was exhibited at the prestigious White Columns gallery in New York City. The hand-animated sequence follows the alteration, decomposition, reversal and reconstitution of everyday branded objects. The rough and jerky quality of the craftsmanship insists viewers consider the presence of the artist’s effort. In this short film, ingenuity and imagination are valued more than any specialized technical expertise. Like cities, the objects in this film continue to change over time in both their physical forms and their associated corporate identities and this metamorphosis suggests that with time, effort, creativity and determination, complex transformations can and do occur, even if they appear somewhat impossible.
Since graduating with his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Guelph in 2006, Horton has exhibited his artwork in many important institutions in Canada and internationally including the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, Mercer Union and The Power Plant in Toronto, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, VOX Contemporary Image in Montreal, Munchner Kammerspiele in Munich, and the Lofoten International Art Festival in Norway.
Untitled (from Backyard series), 2009
ink on paper
17” x 22” each
Ukrainian born artist Olia Mishchenko’s remarkably delicate ink drawings present architectural fictions and fantasies. Clearly influenced by her degree in history and theory from the University of Toronto’s Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Design faculty, this Toronto-based artist’s works explore the ways in which we divide, create, organize and utilize public and private space. In these works from her Backyards series, Mishchenko’s signature overhead perspective allows viewers to peer into the personalized pockets of private space that, when grouped together, form the diverse neighbourhoods of cities. Building tools such as wheelbarrows, ladders, shovels and hoses are intricately rendered in jumbled piles. Though the workers themselves are absent, the results of their industrious creativity are evident in the fences, walls, and structures that constitute this district. Viewers are encouraged to ponder the characteristics of the innovative and productive people who live and work in these neighbourhoods. Though still in the nascent stage of her artistic career, Mishchenko’s works have already been exhibited and collected by important institutions such as Toronto’s Mercer Union and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
oil and acrylic on canvas
38″ x 48″
Kristine Moran’s paintings carefully straddle the fine line that separates abstraction from representation. Loaded with contradiction, her confident brushstrokes are wild and loose yet simultaneously controlled and filled with carefully constructed meaning, providing narratives that are almost legible. In this work, Mind-pods, commissioned specifically for the Martin Prosperity Institute, Moran plays with the idea of a utopian future, a common theme her work addresses. The visionary ideas of mid-twentieth century utopian theorists such as Constant Nieuwenhuys, Archigram, and R. Buckminster Fuller continue to influence Moran’s work and their idealistic concepts of urban cities inform this piece. Referencing the interior architecture of the MaRS’ public atrium, this work depicts floating organic forms that represent evolving ideas born and nurtured within MaRS and the MPI. As these ideas float metaphorically through the abstracted atrium in this painting, their colours modulate, signifying the refinement of ideas during the creative development process.
Moran’s career trajectory is as inspirational and impressive as her paintings. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2004 with top honours including the Governor General’s Academic Medal and in 2008 she received her Masters of Fine Arts from New York City’s prestigious Hunter College. Since then she has been accepted into prominent residency programs including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Studio Space Program in Brooklyn. Moran’s work has been shown in some of the most top-tier galleries in the world including Haunch of Venison in New York City and Saatchi Gallery in London.
Matt McNaught (KWEST)
hardboard and aerosol paint
<<Photo coming soon>>
Graffiti and street art contribute vital aesthetic elements to the fabric of modern urban life. These art forms’ styles and practitioners inform and reflect the definition of youthful visual culture in all creative and thriving cities around the world. The modern day equivalent of traditional folk art, what was once considered a scourge by local leaders and land-owners has today been welcomed into the halls of the greatest museums and valued by forward-thinking community, governmental, and business leaders. Matt McNaught, the artist known by his street nom-de-guerre KWEST, is widely admired in the international graffiti scene and considered a pioneer for his work painted on North American freight trains. Born and based in Toronto, KWEST began his practice in 1993 and, in 1999, crossed Canada from Toronto to Vancouver on his first freight train hopping adventure. Best known for his “Wildstyle” work with interwoven letters, his work has been included in important critical surveys of the history of graffiti including Roger Gastman’s definitive 2006 book Freight Train Graffiti and Nicolas Ganz’s 2004 text Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents. Like many of the top urban artists, KWEST’s art has crossed-over from the streets and tracks to galleries and commercial spaces and he has been commissioned by corporations like Stussy, Red Bull, and Coca Cola. Creative Prosperity is an example of the 3D sculptures KWEST has been producing since refining strong carpentry skills to compliment his spray paint work. Like many of his best pieces, this commission for the Martin Prosperity Institute explores the relationship between the urban environment, classic graffiti aesthetics, and the manner in which grassroots creativity feeds economic expansion.
Peruvian Baroque, 2008 and La Condeza (The Countess), 2008
Acrylic on canvas
24” x 36”
Peruvian-born artist Marisol D’Andrea is a largely self-taught artist. Much of her work focuses on her interest in voluptuous volumes and objects. For Marisol, the voluptuous and curvy are beautiful and evoke happiness. When exaggerated they become particularly friendly. Her art exists at the intersection of bright colours, spontaneous volumes, curves, feelings and beauty. Marisol’s work employs acrylics in bright colours. She aims to transcend the physical sphere and examine the inner life of each character and object depicted, also studying their purpose and role. Look closely and each painting reveals an inner clue about its subjects.
These pieces were inspired by the lavish techniques of the Peruvian baroque style during the 17th century. Their richness is reflected in the wonderful library collection of the Martin Prosperity Institute.