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Light Canoes

Light Canoes

Maha Mustafa
b.1961

Light Canoes
  • 2009
  • Steel, glass
  • 45 m x 3 m
  • 23 Spadina Avenue , Underpass, Toronto

About the artwork

Light Canoes is a light installation designed by Maha Mustafa. Rather than use traditional underpass lighting during this development Mustafa was commissioned to create an artwork that both illuminated the space and expressed a narrative. Mustafa’s use of blue light represents the waterfront just south of the underpass. By bathing the space in blue, Mustafa calls back to a time when the entire area of the city was underwater. The lights take the shape of canoes, which represent the previous forms of travel in the area of the city, a stark contrast to the roadways that cross above the artwork.

Audiences can access this piece from the rail way walking path.

About the artist

Maha Mustafa is a Swedish-Iraqi artist, whose work has been widely exhibited in public spaces throughout Europe, North America and Asia with exhibitions at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo in Japan, Biennale of UAE, Malmö Art Museum in Sweden and MAI Gallery in Montreal. Maha is strongly influenced by conceptual art, which has allowed her to create a diverse number of works; not just limited in the form of sculptures and installations but also to push the space and allow large-scale permanent public work to become engaged and engaging in its urban spaces. While expressing a deep perception within her work that investigates the embodied experience which man has to his surroundings and environment, she strives to communicate her main ideas by addressing social justice issues formed by the instability of the world system.

Fun facts

  • Mustafa visited Toronto for the first time in 2006, it was "love at first sight" describing the multicultural approach of the city, the colourful impressions and the beauty of its landscape and welcoming atmosphere.

Engagement questions

  • If this artwork was untitled, what title would you give to it and why?
  • How do the different elements in this work contribute to a central theme or idea?
  • How does the choice of colour, perspective, or other visual elements, communicate the central idea?