SAW Gallery commission Ace for 50th Anniversary to create a public outdoor sculpture

This year, SAW Gallery is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and have commissioned Ace to create an outdoor public sculpture to be installed in the west facing portico on Nicholas Street at Daly Avenue.

With SAW Gallery situated on Anishinabe traditional territory, Ace’s proposed work entitled Zasaan integrates Anishinaabe traditional knowledge, teachings and iconography into a contemporary work as a confluence between the historical and contemporary connecting generations.

Zasaan is the Anishinaabemowin word for “nest”. The concept is that SAW is a safe and nurturing space for artists to meet, create, grow, share and present diverse works of art that is integral to the regional, provincial, national and international arts community. Since its inception, SAW remains an important contributor to our contemporary art ecosystem.

Zasaan is a large scale translucent sculptural work consisting of four nesting Bneswag (Thunderbirds)  joined in a circle representing each of the four directions and protection. Internal LED lights embedded in centre of the nest represents an inherent aspect of Anishinaabe worldview: coalescing art and power.

Constructed entirely out of contemporary material (acrylic plexiglass), Zasaan incorporates clear and frosted acrylic sheets, acrylic tubes, as well as internal treatments with phosphorescent material. Each plexiglass bneswag consists of two acrylic cut-outs and high resolution images of Ace’s signature electronic component floral motifs referencing Great Lakes floral beadwork printed on Duratran backlit film and sandwiched in between. When natural and artificial light passes through these diverse materials, Zasaan continually transforms itself through the natural cycle from daylight to night.

Zasaan (Nest) will be installed in the Fall of 2023.

SAW Gallery

From its inception in 1973, the artist-run centre SAW has supported politically and socially engaged art, focusing on the performance and media arts. Begun by a group of local artists, the centre was originally part of the legendary café Le Hibou on Sussex Drive, hence the name SAW, an acronym for Sussex Annex Works. In 1981, the centre founded the SAW Video cooperative to support independent video artists and documentarists. During this time, the centre also initiated Club SAW, which has become the most important multidisciplinary space in the region. In 1989, SAW Gallery, SAW Video and Club SAW moved into the historic Arts Court building. Since 2001, SAW Video, now called the Digital Arts Resource Centre, has operated as a distinct organization no longer legally affiliated with SAW, although both share a home at Arts Court and continue to collaborate on many projects.

In 2019, as part of the City of Ottawa’s Arts Court Redevelopment project, SAW expanded over two levels within Arts Court and tripled its space to 15,000 square feet. In addition to expanded exhibition spaces, the new SAW features a state-of-the-art live performance venue, a new circumpolar artistic research space called the Nordic Lab and an outdoor courtyard completely renovated for the presentation of summer festivals and events.

SAW Gallery website

The artist acknowledges the generous support of SAW Centre, Arts Court and the City of Ottawa.