A water treatment plant in Toronto is transforming into a colourful light-up installation

While a water treatment plant may not be your typical destination of choice on a beautiful Saturday evening in Toronto, this weekend might be the perfect time to make an exception, as the exterior of one such facility has been totally transformed into a colourful art installation.

Courtesy of BigArtTO, a city-wide public art celebration offering free access to over 200 hours of temporary public artworks projected onto local buildings and landmarks from Sept. 26 to Dec. 5, the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant at 2701 Queen St. E. has been turned into a stunning piece of art called Dia de los Muertos.

Created by award-winning artists Emma Lopez and Pedro Narvaez along with the help of several OCAD University students and alumni, the installation is an animated piece in honour of the Indigenous, pre-Hispanic/Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. 

"'Dia de los Muertos,' or the 'Day of the Dead,' is a celebration meant to honour our ancestors…its purpose is to help us find our place in the world by honouring those that have already left, and to thank them for the love and the lessons they left behind," said Lopez in a statement. 

"It is a way to use art to transform grief, by thinking of death not as a dark, dreaded and painful event but as a part of life itself that should also be celebrated. And we do so, with flowers, incense, food, colour and joy."

The installation will be on display from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

On both nights, Lopez and Narvaez will be joined by OCAD artists and alumni Gabriel Masewich, Rebecca Van Fraassen, Simone Northey, Peter Rahul and, Mohammed Abdullah, and each artist will be presenting their own personal visual interpretations of the concept.

"All traditions evolve, just as we do, and this particular tradition is very close to our hearts. We have seen it evolve over the years," said Narvaez in a statement. 

"Having recently migrated to Canada ourselves, we thought it was valuable to share this very important part of ourselves and our cultural background by opening it up for dialogue and collaboration. We want to see what this beautiful concept can inspire other fellow artists to create, to find out what other meanings we can discover together."

Lead photo by


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