Conversations with the Artists: PIKE Projects / RAW Gallery Collaboration / by Place Lab

PIKE Projects / RAW Gallery Collaboration is a two-person team based in Canada. This team will submit a proposal for the ArtHouse commission Illumination. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016.

What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
We were attracted to ArtHouse’s objectives— a very earnest effort to affect positive change and address community challenges through art.

Cloud Gate   (nicknamed 'The Bean') in Chicago, IL, by    Anish Kapoor   .

Cloud Gate (nicknamed 'The Bean') in Chicago, IL, by Anish Kapoor.

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
We never tire of Cloud Gate, not only the sculpture but watching all types of people interact with it. Another would be the Warming Hut program – an international competition in Winnipeg to design small huts that shelter and/or amuse ice skaters as they glide along ice trails carved into the rivers that run through the city. Thirdly, Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin is quite moving.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
The approach is the same as we deal with the specifics of each project no matter the owner or audience. We are very process driven and while the process starts in the same way every time, with gathering, studying and testing, it always ends up in a different, specific place. We allow what we learn to steer our process.

The award-winning Hygge House, a warming hut designed  PIKE Projects in partnership with Plain Projects and Urbanink. Photo by Colin Grover.

The award-winning Hygge House, a warming hut designed PIKE Projects in partnership with Plain Projects and Urbanink. Photo by Colin Grover.

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
Public art gives a community a voice and provokes conversation about identity and values— a cultural reference point.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
From a physical standpoint, we hope members of the general population of Gary and the local steel industry can come together to assemble the work’s components on site as a team. Ultimately, the piece is incomplete unless occupied and, because it can be programmed in a very flexible manner, we look forward to seeing how the community will utilize it in ways beyond what we have imagined.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
We want to convey that change in cities can only come from their respective citizens and that art can be a catalyst for that process.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
We don't have BBQ like Mama Pearl's up in Canada!

PIKE Projects / RAW Gallery Collaboration is a Winnipeg, Canada based team passionate about design for public benefit. With master's degrees from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba, Joe Kalturnyk of RAW and Colin Grover of PIKE are builders, artists and designers that have cut their teeth at many an architect's office, founded an architecture office, founded and operated an art gallery, won public art competitions, rebuilt a heritage hotel to house the homeless, are director and partner in a construction firm and run an annual pop-up restaurant on a frozen river. Published internationally, yet obsessed with the local and specific, we dig deep to find the critical elements of each situation and selectively amplify, contort and edit in search of the story - the shared spark that resonates.