Sculptor of TRU's new architectural icon visits for gallery talk

He's the image of the trickster - a transformer, a teacher and a key figure of Secwepemc culture - who overlooks TRU from his perch atop the new House of Learning.

Typical of contemporary public art, John McEwan's oxidized-metal coyote has stirred reactions ranging from appreciation of its cultural significance to disgust from some who see it as an architectural eyesore.

On Monday, both sides of the dialogue get to meet the man behind the metal. John McEwen, an internationally renowned Canadian sculptor, will talk about his work Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the TRU Visual Art Gallery.

Wonder why the coyote is way up there?

Placement is a principal element of McEwen's work. His objective is to blend sculptures with installation sites for an effect greater than the sum of its parts.

McEwen started working with steel almost 40 years ago when he bought an old blacksmith shop in Ontario. Since then his prolific output has brought character and meaning to locations all over Toronto as well as in Ottawa and New York City. Life-sized animal silhouettes are a significant part of his practice.

The TRU coyote commission was proposed by House of Learning architect Donald Schmitt, who knew of McEwen's integration of art and place. For those who missed a chance to see it up close, the coyote is frozen in a loping stride toward the rising sun. Constructed from bent and rolled steel stars, the body symbolizes unity of earth and sky.

Ann Pollock, an independent curator, CBC producer and essayist who's written on McEwen's work, will introduce the artist.

Pollock's most recent essay on McEwen was published in Marconi in the Sculpture of John McEwen ( The Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2007). The illustrated book is regarded as the most important monograph to date on the senior Canadian artist.

His talk begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The gallery is located in Old Main Building.

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