Nanaimo artist Amber Morrison turns a set of stairs into a work of art

Morrison expects project to take more than 30 hours and seven cans of spray paint

There are 403 steps leading from the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union Pub up to the edge of the Nanaimo Parkway. Amber Morrison knows this because she counted every one of them.

The VIU student is in her final year studying fine arts and since Dec. 11 she has been spending most days, sometimes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., stencilling numbers onto the school’s longest set of stairs from the bottom to the top. By Dec. 21, about 24 hours and five cans of bubblegum-pink spray paint into the project, she made it to step 326. She said she’s around seven hours and two cans from completing the work. She calls it An End and a Beginning.

“I wanted to have a conceptual art piece that people would intuitively just look at and be able to understand. I didn’t want to be exclusive or exclusionary about it so I wanted to make something straightforward,” Morrison said.

“I started thinking about my time here at VIU and how much work I’ve put into this degree … so I wanted to do something that was useful to everybody and overall represented the metaphor of really hard work and the grind from starting to finishing something.”

Morrison, who describes herself as a “cross-disciplinary” artist, also serves as program co-ordinator for the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching student art collective.

She set out to create An End and a Beginning because she was interested in creating a repetitive, cumulative work that serves as a “response” to her environment. It’s also her first large-scale piece of public art and the first in which she’s had permission of the property owner.

She was drawn to the stairs as a symbol of progress because students regularly use them for exercise and a friend of hers counts them to ease anxiety. Also, she always wondered just how many stairs there were.

“I kind of really wanted to do something easy, literal and still thought-provoking,” she said.

Morrison got permission for the work by successfully pitching it to her instructor as a class project, meaning she will be graded on the end result.

“The wording I’ve used is that, ‘I’m activating the stairs as a sculpture by numbering it and I’m getting people to consider it in a different way.’ So I got away with that,” she said.

In order to proceed with the project Morrison needed to go through a few levels of approval, including from the groundskeepers. She said she received positive feedback while completing her work, including from a passing groundskeeper who saw the practical uses of numbering the steps.

“He was really enthusiastic because he said that this will make it so much easier to meet with other employees, to determine if stairs need repairs, like, ‘Stair 117 has a crack? I can dispatch a guy and get him out there and he’ll know exactly which step it is now,’” she said.

“Initially, this was supposed to run for a duration until February, but I’ve had multiple people come up and be like, ‘Can we just keep this indefinitely?’ So here’s hoping.”



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo woman seeks knitters to make blankets for cats

Dale Burke inspired by creator of Comfort for Critters

City of Nanaimo’s budget talks start with 5.2-per cent tax increase

Series of special finance and audit meetings start Wednesday, Nov. 20

Lantzville seeks changes to policing cost model for small towns

Policing costs significantly increase once a municipality’s population exceeds 5,000

Headlocks for Hunger pro wrestling show making its return

Vancouver Island Pro Wrestling holding card Saturday, Nov. 23 at Centennial Building

Nanaimo’s ‘Living History’ isn’t being forgotten

City announces return of speaker series for one night Nov. 19

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

B.C. petition calls for seat belts in new school buses

Agassiz bus driver collects 124,000 signatures in support

Nanaimo service station first in B.C. to be part of Petro-Canada’s ‘electric highway’

EV charge stations started operating last month at service station at Terminal and Princess Royal

Nanaimo school district starting from scratch on testing water for lead

Health Canada changed acceptable levels to 0.005 mg/L in March, prompting re-testing at schools

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Most Read