Art intended for Walterdale Bridge will be installed at alternate location, City of Edmonton apologizes
Two sculptures that were removed from plans for the new Walterdale Bridge will now be installed in a location of the artist’s choosing, according to a news release from the City of Edmonton Friday.
The Buffalo and the Buffalo Fur Trader by artist Kenneth Lum is two 13-foot-tall bronze sculptures the city said intended to highlight the history and impact of the fur trade in Edmonton.
In August 2022, the city decided against installing the pair as part of the Walterdale Bridge replacement project. The city noted that the Rossdale area north of the bridge is an important location for Indigenous peoples, protected by law as a historic cemetery and burial ground.
“While some audiences may find the artwork thought provoking, for others it may cause harm and induce painful memories,” the city said in a news release in August.
However, a statement on Friday apologized for inferring the artist meant to celebrate colonialism and said the city didn’t intend to harm Lum’s “stellar” reputation.
“Ken Lum is a highly respected and eminent Canadian-born artist, writer and academic of Chinese descent and has made a career of confronting issues of racism and oppression in his art practice,” the city said.
The city said it worked with Lum to transfer the artwork into the municipal public art collection and it will be installed in a location of Lum’s choosing.
Art is a requirement for large public construction projects in Edmonton because of The Percent for Art Program.
One per cent of the eligible construction budget of any publicly accessible municipal project is dedicated to the acquisition of art, according to the program, created in 1991.
The Edmonton Arts Council directs the program, and provides vision for and stewardship of the City of Edmonton Public Art Collection.
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This program is to provide thanks for notable Edmonton art such as the Talus Dome silver balls at the Quesnell Bridge beside Whitemud Drive, and Immense Mode, the large shoes at the Southgate Transit Centre.
The total cost of the Walterdale Bridge artwork was $375,000.
— with files from Karen Bartko, Global News
&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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