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Sculpture celebrates Pan Am Games and student ingenuity

A new public art sculpture (rendering above) created by three U of T students will adorn the Pan Am path at U of T Scarborough.

Take three student artists, one arts management student and one outdoor sculpture competition; mix them with the Pan Am/Parapan Games and the result is Fairgrounds, an art installation that will be situated along the Pan Am Path at U of T Scarborough.

When Zarish Asif (Honours BA, UTSC, 2014, Art and City Studies) saw a call last year for entries to a competition for arts installations to adorn the Pan Am Path, she quickly contacted her friends, Vineetha Sivasathan, a U of T master’s student in architecture, and Zee Bolad, a U of T undergraduate studying English, art and culture. The three friends had worked together on various art projects and quickly decided that each of them would submit an entry and collaborate if one of the entries was chosen.

“The next thing you know, we got a callback, and it has been an adventure from that point,” Asif said.

Added Bolad, “Especially when we walked into the first meeting of the people selected and we were the only students, the youngest and the only ones not affiliated in any way with an organization.”

The trio has spent the past year immersed in planning for the fabrication, installation and celebration of their sculpture, Fairgrounds, a playful, interactive, accessible art installation that resembles four large steel pinwheels set in a square. Fairgrounds will be displayed in the UTSC zone of the Pan Am Path, a network of trails running through northern Toronto that are being connected as part of the Games’ legacy.

“I’ve done site-specific installations before, but nothing to this scale,” said Sivasathan. “It has been a long journey, talking with engineers, lawyers, UTSC facilities personnel, programmers, Pan Am organizers and committees.

“It has been a great learning experience for all of us.”

Asif agreed.

“It took us all out of our comfort zone, doing things we’d never done before.”

Throughout the process, the artists have had a hand from Norah Smith, an arts management student at UTSC and a work-study student at Hart House. Under the supervision of Zoe Dille at Hart House, Smith is co-ordinating resources for the project and assisting with arts programming which will take place in conjunction with the Games.

“It’s a very special project and it’s great to be looped into that,” said Smith. “I like to take on big projects and see the end result.”

The sculpture is slated for installation on its UTSC site in June, with festivities taking place there in early August.

“The most important thing about it is to eliminate the boundaries between the audience and art,” said Asif. “I hope people can really understand what we were trying to do.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough