toronto biennial of art 2022

A billowing smoke sculpture will soon overtake Toronto's waterfront

Toronto often has large clouds of smoke hanging around, so much so that we've been called the "Big Smoke," whether it's from pollution or pot (happy belated 420).

But soon, a cloud of smoke that's a lot more colourful and beautiful will appear at our waterfront.

American pyrotechnic artist Judy Chicago will set off her first ever smoke sculpture in Canada this summer called A Tribute to Toronto at Sugar Beach. It will be the grand finale concluding the second edition of the Toronto Biennial of Art (TBA).

The sculpture will consist of white, yellow, green, blue, and purple pigments released from a structure on a barge. The plumes of smoke should mix in the air and interact with the light of the setting sun to create fascinating, changing forms as they dissipate.

"Colour is the through line in my work, whether ephemeral or explored in more tangible forms such as paintings or sculpture," says Chicago. "Colour is a doorway to many aspects of the human condition."

The pigments are totally non-toxic, meet environmental safety standards and will only create temporary forms, and the device that sets off the smoke should make little to no sound.

"The Toronto Biennial of Art is thrilled to present A Tribute to Toronto by Judy Chicago, the legendary feminist artist, art educator, and writer who will create her first project on water and her first Smoke Sculpture presentation in Canada," says TBA executive director Patrizia Libralato.

"Judy has been a long-time fan of our city having first exhibited her iconic The Dinner Party installation at the Art Gallery of Ontario in the 1980s. Her return to Toronto with this work provides an exciting opportunity for our community and the art world to experience art history in the making."

Chicago has been making pyrotechnic art since the 1960s. The intent was originally to add femininity to the male-dominated California art scene.

She's previously temporarily transformed deserts, parks, beaches, museums, forests and construction sites with her work, and once even created a "cloudscape" for a Drake and Kanye West concert.

The Toronto smoke sculpture will be visible on Saturday, June 4 from 8 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Lead photo by

Diamonds in the Sky, 2021. Courtesy of Judy Chicago. Photo by Donald Woodman.


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