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Best Fronds: Letting the community be part of the art

October 30, 2023

The Valley Line Southeast LRT project is adding a splash of colour and texture to communities along the route thanks to the City’s Percent for Art Policy which is managed by the Edmonton Arts Council. 

The Valley Line Southeast LRT project’s public art collection will include 14 different projects including art glass at five of the eleven stops and at Davies Station, five stop canopy sculptures, one mosaic, one series of paintings and one inflatable sculpture. 

Edmonton-based artist Stephanie Jonsson was selected to create a canopy sculpture for the Muttart Stop. This stop — located a short stroll away from the Muttart Conservatory — is the first LRT stop in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley. 

Meet artist Stephanie Jonsson and her Best Fronds! Jonsson graduated from the University of Alberta in 2005 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in sculpture and she has continued to pursue her career as an artist, expanding her mediums, teaching art to people of all ages, and completing her Master of Applied Arts degree at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC

Jonsson currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta where she has an art studio at Harcourt House and runs a sustainable plus-size vintage inspired fashion company called Clamour Clothing.

Let’s take a closer look at Best Fronds, Jonsson’s botanical-inspired art at the Muttart Stop.

Jonsson has described her piece as a botanically themed sculpture that references the flora of the Muttart Conservatory and offers an organic contrast to the Muttart’s glass pyramids that are so prominent in our city’s skyline. With its bold colours, the sculpture emphasizes the whimsical nature of these plant-inspired forms. Jonsson said she wanted to conjure up ideas of fantastical and playful flowers and cause the viewer to question the scale of these organisms: whether they are microscopic biomes that have been blown up, life-sized plants, or a selection from a larger-than-life otherworldly landscape.” The organic shapes were waterjet cut out of aluminum on a flat surface, bent to create the frond’s unique three-dimensional shape, welded together, and finally painted using automotive paint.

Community involvement was an important part of creating Best Fronds. Jonsson hosted, Be Part of the Art” an in-person event held at the Muttart Conservatory in 2018. Edmontonians enthusiastically came out to participate, leading Jonnson to split the event into two portions due to space constraints. In total 59 people attended Be Part of the Art”, with 28 people attending the first half and 31 attending the second half. Participants drew and coloured plants and flowers that were found in the Muttart. Jonsson incorporated the artwork from the event to further inspire the final creation. The piece became more abstract than she originally anticipated and the colours she chose were inspired by the artworks the participants made.

The artwork consists of two sections which are located on canopies that are diagonal from each other. Each section is 30 feet long and 4 feet high.

When asked if there is anything Jonsson wanted Edmontonians to know about her first public art piece she shared The piece was welded by an all-female team of professional welders consisting of Leah Applejohn, Selene Huff and Sarah Nowoselsky. Elements such as the base that mounts on the canopy and other major elements were designed by Jared Sykes, who was an instrumental part in helping this piece come together.” Jonsson hopes commuters on the Valley Line LRT and visitors of the Muttart feel inspired and uplifted by her art installation.

Heading to the Muttart Conservatory to see the botanical collections with your best friends?

Look up at the stop shelter canopies to find Best Fronds! Share your photos with us on social media using #YEGPublicArt.