Back to list

Selections From the Synopsis of Categories

Selections From the Synopsis of Categories

Micah Lexier

Selections From the Synopsis of Categories
  • Aluminum
  • 1992
  • 25 ladders (ranging from 1.8m to 4.9m in length)
  • 55 John Street, Metro Hall, Toronto

About the artwork

Commissioned for the new Toronto Metro Hall, on the occasion of the city being amalgamated, Micah Lexier’s work, Selections from the Synopsis of Categories, consists of 25 aluminum ladders, custom-made to reach various heights, casually arranged and randomly stacked. On each rung, a word emerges from the aluminum bar, waterjet-cut from the metal. With 350 words in total, each has been selected from the “Synopsis of Categories” section of Roger’s Thesaurus as visual representations of intellectual construction. By merging them with the image of ladders, which represent physical construction, Lexier addresses the variety of work carried out by employees of the public service sector. As the installation is located on the ground floor lobby of the Metro Hall, it serves not only to promote the work that the employees there do but to remind them why they do it and for whom. Lexier has said: “The integration of words and ladders refers to language and architecture as constructed vocabularies that express and define human identity”.

Some of the words that can be found on the rungs include: convention, disclosure, comfort, judgement, electronics, facility, transparency, bond, intention, and support.

About the artist

Micah Lexier is a prolific multidisciplinary artist, curator, and collector hailing from Winnipeg. He completed his studies in fine arts at the University of Manitoba and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. His practice focuses on notions of identity and its representation, incorporating elements that we often label ourselves with such as signatures, names, and ages. Lexier expresses the concepts he develops through sculpture, using ready-mades or materials produced through mechanical processes. This intentional distancing from the materials he works with underscores the emotional nature of his work. Growing up as a gay man during the AIDS crisis deeply affected Lexier’s practice and developed his intimate consciousness with the fragility of life. Many of his pieces address the theme of life expectancy and mortality, where numbers become particularly significant. Often the subject of his own work, Lexier has said: “Everything an artist does is portraiture, in a way”. He will often work in a series, starting with simple ideas and exploring them in systematic fashions over many years. His interest in producing ephemeral pieces, such as posters and T-shirts, extends his practice beyond gallery settings. Lexier’s work has been exhibited widely, both in Canada and internationally. He has had the fortune of completing a number of public art commissions in Ontario and his works are held in many major collections around the world, including The British Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 2015, Lexier received the Governor General’s Award for excellence in the Visual Arts. While actively producing studio work from his homebase in Toronto, he has become an avid collector of curious and clever objects.

Fun facts

  • Take a moment to pause amongst the hustle and bustle of Toronto's subway line to observe Lexier's unique work, Sheppard & Leslie. Covering the subterranean walls are 17,000 tiles featuring the name of the station, written by the hands of 3,500 community members who were invited to participate.

Engagement questions

  • What speaks to you about this work, are there words that jump out at you as particularly meaningful?
  • What words would you choose to define human identity, for yourself and broadly?