New Central Library Public Art

NCL Artists: Down to a shortlist

A community-led jury has selected five finalists to compete for the opportunity to create the New Central Library’s public art. May the best sculpture/interactive/multi-media/painting win!  



When CMLC issued a Request for Qualifications for public art to grace Calgary’s New Central Library, the response from the global art world was one for the record books. A whopping 240 of the world’s foremost artists responded with their qualifications to design and execute works of art for the new public institution, itself a work of art. Whittling the list down to five finalists was a monumental task.

A volunteer jury whose members included local artists, art champions, library fans and neighbours, painstakingly evaluated submissions from a large cross-section of artistic media. To keep the possibilities and opportunities for artistic expression as wide open as possible, the jury looked at submissions from sculptors, painters, interactive designers and new media artists. By fall of 2014, they had identified a short list of artists whose backgrounds and portfolios of work, befitted the new era bibliotheca.

American sculptor Alice Aycock, Canadian sculptor Brian Jungen, Canadian interactive media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer/Besette, European/American multi-media artist and sculptor Christian Moeller, and American mixed media artist Janet Zweig were selected as the five (5) proponents vying to bring their vision for new public art to your New Central Library.

In February, artists and jury members joined forces and got right down to work, studying the wide curriculae of library function and surrounding community that would inform the final art proposals. The group braved an unusually chilly day to tour the current Central Library, the New Central Library construction site and the East Village neighbourhood to better understand how the NCL would fit into the emerging community. They met with Prime Design consultants Snøhetta and DIALOG, along with the staff of the Calgary Public Library, to discuss the function of the NCL. They learned about the history of the library’s site and the opportunity for placement of public art pieces both within and outside the building. They studied technical details of the building’s architecture, including the play of sun and shadow upon the library. They came away with the knowledge needed to complete their homework assignments – the submission of final proposals to the jury by the end of March.

The jury will then consider the shortlisted submission concepts to determine which approach is most fitting for a public institution that is a work of art in its own right. Calgarians can expect a thoughtfully beautiful piece, or pieces, that will celebrate the role of art in the city and engage passersby and library patrons alike.

The successful artist/s will be announced later this spring and will be featured in the spring issue of EVE magazine. Stay tuned!