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Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light

Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light

John McEwen

Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light
  • Corten steel, lights
  • 1998
  • Approx 23 m heigh. Base: 6 m x 6 m
  • 40 Bay Street, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

About the artwork

Unveiled on December 16th, 1998 , this three-column steel sculpture, Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light, is inspired by a quote from author Louis Untermeyer, (1885-1977): “God, if you wish for our love, Fling us a handful of stars”.

The surface of each column has been extensively perforated with holes in the shape of five-pointed stars that glow when lit from within like celestial search beacons in the night. The effect is most immediately associated with the search beams that call attention to entertainment spectacles such as those that take place in the adjacent Scotiabank Centre. Further, the telescopic shape of the columns and the starry lights suggest a connection between the earth and sky; between the infinite cosmos and the depth of the human imagination.

About the artist

John McEwen was born in Toronto in 1945. He currently lives and works in Hillsdale, Ontario. Co-founder and former director of A Space, John McEwen was honored in 2007 with a Doctorate of Fines Arts from The University of Lethbridge. He is recognized both internationally and across Canada for his many site-specific installations and public commissions. McEwen is best known for his use of stars as sculptural elements as well as naturalistic images including flame cut from massive metal slabs. For McEwen, the dog/wolf image becomes an object-sign that reveals the close inter-connection between nature and culture. His works are often informed by poetic and art historical sources as well as drawing upon the rich history of the Canadian landscape.

Fun facts

  • It took two years for McEwen to get into the Ontario College of Art and Design because he couldn’t draw. First, he went to McMaster University for a year, met a girl who lived on a farm and began making things out of broken farm machinery. He then knew that sculpture was the only way for him to understand the world.
  • Holder of the Order of Canada, McEwen is proud of his small-town connections and credits his humble lifestyle for giving him the freedom to explore his art in Hillsdale and surroundings.

Engagement questions

  • If this artwork was untitled, what title would you give to it and why?