Edmonton’s GOLDEN LRT
June 14, 2022 By Rich Porayko
AT A GLANCE – Edmonton Valley Line LRT
- Glazing Contractor: Capilano Glass
- Glass Fabricator: Goldray Glass
- Project owners: City of Edmonton
Edmonton Arts Council
Edmonton Transit Service
Goldray Glass has collaborated with artists to create public art projects for Edmonton LRT stations. Four Edmonton artists, three Albertan artists, two Indigenous artist teams and one international artist were chosen from 260 proposals to have their work displayed along Edmonton LRT’s Valley Line.
“We love public art. This project was very exciting to work on because they were taking a building material that was already going to be used in each of the structures – glass – and they used it as a medium for their public art projects as well,” said Laura Little, vice-president of sales and marketing for Goldray Glass.
“Edmonton Arts Council had a competition to choose which artists would be awarded and we got to be a part of the process,” explained Little, who connected with all the artists, painters, sculptors and photographers and trained them to create art on glass. “We talked about glass as a medium and we listened how the artists create art and then we collaborated on how this all translates into the glazing world. We discussed things like limitations of colour palettes, UV stability and printing capabilities.”
The artists had to make sure that their art was representative and connected to the community that was using the LRT station. “They put their artwork together and we created samples for each artist’s pitch to the Edmonton Arts Council,” said Little. “It started back in 2017 and we just finished it a few months ago. Working alongside these incredible artists, the Edmonton Art Council and the installers to deliver on such a vibrant and engaging vision was an incredible experience for our team.”
Each art installation uses a proprietary combination of products including digitally printed, low-iron, laminated glass. The Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) and their transit security section had requirements around where and where not artwork could be located and where they needed vision areas. “The ETS didn’t want to block any sightlines or create hidden areas out of view in case someone is in distress. Passengers must always be able to be seen,” said Little. “Being laminated, each panel also provides inherent safety and fallout protection.”
Glass is frequently used in public art. “It is easy to clean off graffiti and the colours remain vibrant even after years of being exposed to the elements,” said Little. “Replacing damaged panels is another reason digital printing was selected. Goldray will store the files so replacements are easy for us to produce.”
One of the artists on the project is Vancouver’s Adad Hannah who has produced community-engaged collaborative projects around the world. Adad’s artwork, Holyrood Lanterns, is a sequence of transit shelters with a series of tessellated pentagons panels and patterns. The images in the mosaics were captured through a series of community workshops. Hannah’s intention was to transform the transit shelters into colourful and beautiful lanterns that reflect Hollyrood, a residential neighbourhood in the Bonnie Doon area of southeast Edmonton’s diverse makeup. “Not only are they functional shelters, but at night they light up like lanterns,” said Hannah.
Each shelter is different. “I held photography workshops with several school and community groups in the Holyrood neighbourhood,” explained Hannah. “In these workshops we discussed different modes of photography before heading out to capture images. Participants were free to photograph whatever caught their eye. We collected over 1,000 photos. Back at my studio, I selected images from this pool of photos and mapped them onto the five-sided tessellating shapes. Everyone that took part in the project has at least one photo included into the artwork. The community can see itself reflected in the project.”
“Goldray’s technical team is great,” said Hannah. “They provided me with technical support all along the way.”
“Glass is an ancient process and Goldray has combined art glass and high technology,” said Hannah. “The possibilities of what can be done with full-colour printed frit allow me to take my photographic-based images and print it on glass. You can print on all kinds of acrylic and plastics adhesives, but I don’t trust their longevity. Goldray’s process is as durable as stained glass. It’s not going to fade. It has all the things that public art clients want in terms of replaceability, durability and ease of cleaning. If a piece breaks, then it can be replaced by Goldray easily.”
“The beauty of digitally printing on glass is that it brings together beauty and functionality,” added Little. “The easy workflow to get designs onto the glass without compromising the vibrancy of colour for the artists, creating a connection with the community, as well as the ease of maintenance is a win for all involved. Public art projects are rewarding on so many levels including filling our hearts with pride at Goldray.” •
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