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Contemporary Artists Celebrate Light as a Symbol of Hope and Unity

4 years ago

12 Trees exhibition co-curated by Douglas Coupland features installations by top Canadian artists

Toronto, ON September 12, 2017—The Gardiner Museum’s annual 12 Trees exhibition, presented by Nordstrom, returns this year with contemporary holiday installations inspired by the theme Let There Be Light. Co-curated by Canadian author and visual artist Douglas Coupland and Vice President of Public Art Management Ben Mills, the exhibition celebrates light as a potent symbol of hope and unity that many cultures share during the holiday season.

12 Trees: Let There Be Light, on display from November 17, 2017 to January 7, 2018, features original works by top Canadian artists, including Jon Sasaki’s interactive installation that invites visitors to use a hand-cranking generator to power a tree decorated with lights and lasers, or Project Runway Canada winner Evan Biddell’s holiday metaverse.

“Just as clay is one of the most enduring ways that humankind shapes our world, light is one of the most poignant expressions of our hope for humanity and a beacon we can all share during the holiday season,” said Kelvin Browne, Gardiner Museum Executive Director and CEO. “This year’s artists bring a fresh and dynamic perspective to a much-loved tradition, offering a new level of creativity and inclusivity.”

“The works cover the spectrum from literal to interpretative, projection to installation, and interactive to contemplative. In each case, their artistry and use of light shines brilliantly through,” said exhibition co-curator Douglas Coupland.

Highlights include a whimsical diorama of a Canadian winter scene by Toronto-based contemporary artist David Trautrimas, an abstracted pink LED Christmas tree by artist studio Polymétis, and a video projection inspired by the 1964 classic holiday film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by new media artist Alex McLeod.

In addition to the twelve artist installations, the Gardiner will erect a 35-foot white spruce on the Museum’s outdoor plaza designed by Presenting Sponsor, Nordstrom, and donated by Ontario Wood and Forests Ontario.

“We’re proud to be a part of the beautifully-curated 12 Trees exhibition for the second year in a row,” said Michelle Haggard, Senior Vice President/Regional Manager of Nordstrom Canada. “We hope our Nordstrom decorated tree will bring magic and wonder to the Toronto community as well as complement existing holiday traditions.”

The exhibition kicks off on Thursday November 16 at 7 pm with the Gardiner’s annual 12 Trees Gala in support of the Museum’s education and outreach program. Guests will be treated to a special musical performance, an immersive light show, and international flavours inspired by holiday traditions from around the world. Tickets can be purchased at gardinermuseum.com/12treesgala.

For more information about 12 Trees: Let There Be Light, visit gardinermuseum.com/12trees.


Evan Biddell, Julia Callon, Connor Crawford, Christine Dewancker and Katherine Strang, Amit Kehar and Kanika Gupta, Alex McLeod, Polymétis, Jon Sasaki, Jordan Soderberg Mills, David Trautrimas, Julia White, Vivian Wong


The Gardiner Museum celebrates the art of ceramics and engages local and international audiences by promoting understanding of the long history of people crafting in clay. The Museum stewards a highly important collection, connecting visitors to the fundamental role of ceramics in many cultures throughout history, and offers special temporary displays, many highlighting the relevancy of ceramics to contemporary life.

The permanent collection comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include the most important collection of European porcelain in Canada, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. The Gardiner holds the best collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. It preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. The Gardiner is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the most important specialty museums internationally. For more information, please visit: www.gardinermuseum.com.


Nordstrom, Inc. is a leading fashion specialty retailer based in the U.S. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 356 stores in 40 states, including 121 full-line stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; 224 Nordstrom Rack stores; two Jeffrey boutiques; and two clearance stores. Additionally, customers are served online through Nordstrom.com, Nordstromrack.com and HauteLook. The company also owns Trunk Club, a personalized clothing service serving customers online at TrunkClub.com and its seven clubhouses. Nordstrom, Inc.’s common stock is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol JWN.


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With thanks to our 12 Trees Committee
Anne-Marie H. Applin, Co-chair
Anjli Patel, Co-chair
Geneviève Blouin, Donna Dooher, Karra Greenwood, Elise Orenstein, Karen Rice, Wendy Sandwith, Antoinette Tummillo, Claudia Valladolid

12 Trees Honorary Committee
Senator Salma Ataullahjan, Co-chair
Senator Nicole Eaton, Co-chair
Angela Feldman, Co-chair
Gail Appel, Emmanuelle Gattuso, Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, Dee Dee Taylor Eustace, Myles Mindham

Presenting Sponsor

Exhibition & Gala Partners

               Cumberland Private Wealth


Rosemary Phelan, Langar Foundation

The Citrine Foundation of Canada

Tree Sponsors


In Kind Sponsors


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