Residents on 118th Avenue will now be accompanied on their evening walks by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Walking Figures. The three, nine-foot tall sculptures, each weighing a ton, loom over Alberta Avenue, headless, armless, with a sombre reference to time and loss.
The piece was created in 2005, the hollow cast-iron shells covered in individualized texture and pattern. Abakanowicz, who lived through the Second World War and the Soviet occupation of Poland, draws on the social and political upheaval that occurred during her childhood.
Members of Edmonton’s Polish community were drawn to see the art that connected them to their country. But, it wasn’t the sculptures that brought tears to some viewers eyes. It was the fact, that the art piece, travelled far and wide, only to — much like them— settle in Edmonton. When the piece was unveiled, their excitement was palpable as they posed for pictures and helped with Polish pronunciations.
For Arts on the Ave’s executive director Christy Morin, the piece was especially personal, as it spoke to her Polish heritage.
“To see the success of Magdalena’s work just resonated with how the Polish community has had to struggle and find its way,” she says.
This is the third installation on the street in partnership with the Vancouver Biennale to Arts on the Ave. The partnership is further established with the two organizations trying to twin Alberta Avenue in Edmonton with Alberta Street in Vancouver, as creative districts in both cities.
“To see the provincial connections is just wonderful,” says Morin, adding that Edmonton can look forward to another art piece in the near future.