Canadian Artist Katharine Harvey Redefines Urban Landscapes

Art helps us understand the world uniquely, and public art installations offer an engaging way to enrich the cultural relevance of a community, connect residents, beautify spaces, and celebrate places. Katharine Harvey, a Canadian multidisciplinary artist, has been acclaimed for making a positive cultural impact in her community, particularly through her work at Chester Subway Station in Toronto. Awarded a commission by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to modernize Chester Station, Harvey ensures art reaches the community intimately.

Canadian Artist Katharine Harvey Redefines Urban Landscapes

Her project, Florae, draws inspiration from vibrant neighbourhood gardens, eco-conscious initiatives, and nearby landmarks like Evergreen Brickworks. “I was particularly drawn to the indigenous flora of the area, which I photographed and transformed into intricate mosaics and digital prints,” Harvey told the Toronto Guardian.

By blending traditional mosaic techniques with digital printing, she bridges historical art forms with modern technology. Harvey’s artistic process involves collaging photographs of native flowers—milkweed, verbena, trout lily, and blue flag iris—in translucent layers on her computer. Using double exposure photography, she fragments natural forms into geometric shapes, exploring the relationship between nature and technology.

Florae features two extensive ceramic mosaics (8 by 14 feet) and a 38-foot digital print across the main entrance windows of Chester Subway Station. Installed during the pandemic in 2020, Harvey’s installation democratizes art beyond gallery settings, sparking conversations about environmental conservation. “The community’s response has been heartening,” Harvey reflects. “The artwork brings art closer to the local community, allowing commuters to essentially visit an art gallery daily. It also serves as a portal for people to learn about native plants of the area. I believe art has a unique power to communicate complex ideas in accessible ways.”

Canadian Artist Katharine Harvey Redefines Urban Landscapes

Central to Harvey’s practice is an emphasis on ecology and sustainability; she reused a significant portion of materials for the mosaics, collaborating with Mosaika in Montreal to repurpose discarded pieces from past projects.

Looking ahead, Harvey plans to explore the use of recycled materials further, continuing to integrate art into public spaces and fostering dialogue on nature, technology, and sustainability. She is also continuing to work on a new series of acrylic paintings titled “Turning in the Light,” inspired by captivating architectural ceilings in her studio.

 

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Tosin Ajogbeje is a PR expert & spoken word poet who enjoys contributing to community ventures, creating spoken word video content, and blogging about pertinent societal issues. Check out her work at Website(tosinajobs.com) or Instagram(tosin_creativeblogs).