I have had different opportunities to place art into the public domain. Always, it has been important for these integrations to hold a directed context to site, as far as having some connection to its past, where it resides and where it lives, or to transform the consideration of the moment of encounter for passers-by. I appreciate the accidental encounter for art by the collective public walking down a street, looking out a car window, travelling a train or following one's daily living patterns. These are the times where the right art concept can change the way a person considers their environment if only for a brief moment. Art is a triggering device that invites dialogue and debate. Art is a discussion. It has to rise above things and allow you to possibly think different about yourself ultimately. I want that experience myself.
At 23 Besant was Exhibitions Designer for The Glenbow Museum's new building in downtown Calgary.
At 27 he was elected to the RCA Royal Academy of the Arts.
At 29 he won the Andrew Nelson Whitehead Award from the Los Angeles Printmaking Society along with his first major public art commission for The Flatiron Mural in the heart of Toronto's Theatre District.
Awarded the Metropolitan Museum Prize in Miami USA 1977, The World Culture Prize for Letters, Arts & Science in Milan Italy 1984, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Award 1987, Distinguished Alumni Award 1999 University of Calgary and two MUDA Mayor's Urban Design Awards for The City of Calgary revolving around his proactive collaborative role in urban art integrations.
Recent exhibitions include The Saatchi Gallery, London UK, Bibliotheca, Alexandrina, Egypt, Akademija Centre for Art Research, Belgrade, Serbia, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège, Belgium, Stedelijke Museum, Belgium, Sun Yat-Sen Museum, Taipei, Taiwan and the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France.
Ask questions on who lives in the area, what do they do and where are they from.
Ask what they think about inside their heads at night in a dream.
Ask to describe an incident that happened to them near here.
Ask about what kinds of wild things exist here they've seen.
Ask what three words describe them as a person.
Ask them to pick an object that holds meaning for them from their pocket or purse.
Ask them to write their name.
Ask them to hold out their hands to be photographed.
Ask them to tell you a secret.
Ask them to draw a map to somewhere from here.
Ask them to draw their portrait.
Ask them what they fear.
By inviting responses to these types of questions, a collective public profile emerges through retelling of experience. From that, I am able to reinvent the material into art.
See the full artist roster and read more about the Utility Box public art program.