Art is Land Network holds a public dialogue to bring back city’s nature

Art is Land Network (AILN) is a team of nine artists sharing a belief that civilization and nature need not be separate – peel away the layers of our cities and see the green between the glass and the grey.

With community efforts of artistry and education, the group believes we can find our natural world once again. On Nov. 1, in partnership with the Vancouver Parks Board and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, they will host a dialogue about “rewilding” our city parks, A Conversation: Finding Nature in Public Places.

Making room for a “redefinition” revolution

The project seeks to redefine what we’ve come to know about nature and our expectations of how to engage it. Sharon Kallis, artist and longtime collaborator with the Vancouver Parks Board (VPB), wants to bring the natural world back into cities as opposed to seeking it outside our city’s borders. With the help of community artists and the VPB, she hopes to give people the option of bypassing their cars and merely walking around the corner to their parks for an encounter with nature.

Kallis sees the VPB’s Arts, Culture, and Engagement department, led by jil p. weaving, as breaking barriers between community and nature. The department supplies public artists around Vancouver, who can work as translators between the artistic world and community. Kallis believes that artists are at the forefront of innovation.

“Many people can’t imagine what they don’t already know. But artists, they can envision something they don’t already know. So if they can show a new alternative, people can grasp it and be inspired,” she says.

AILN: Contour ephemeral installations by community participants. | Photos by Pierre Leichner

AILN: Contour ephemeral installations by community participants. | Photos by Pierre Leichner

Bridging gaps between disciplines

One of the AILN artists, Pierre Leichner, believes arts and science’simpact could be much greater when treated as equals. Born in Romania and raised in France, he came to Canada with a curiosity for neuroscience. He now makes his way about the world through art, using it to observe and educate society.

“I believe art has lost its place to science, business and entertainment as a way of knowing. Participatory art restores this ability with its participants. I use sound, touch and taste to further our knowing,” says Leichner.

This mentality is reflected in his AILN arts program, Slowing Spaces, where participants create their own environmental art installation using natural materials from the world around them, allowing people to see what they may have previously overlooked.

Appreciating what we already know

Speaking at the Nov. 1 event along with Kallis and weaving is Susan Gerofsky, a UBC Mathematics professor. She, too, believes the correlations between arts, science, and math are much more than what we

give credit for. She firmly believes in utilizing all senses to obtain knowledge.

Where before the value of art was in its permanence, Gerofsky sees projects and groups like AILN, as promoting an increased awareness of the way our natural world works.

“Instead of using materials like bronze, you can use things you can grow, to see them as raw materials and E_p8_conduit_1make them into public art.You have to be ready for it to be destroyed by the elements, so you have to enjoy it while it’s there,” she says.

Finding our root

AILN believes that, by conversing with our community and the people who dwell in it, we can use art and nature as conduits for the search of that shared element.

“We come back to what our core needs are, then there is the point of connection, contact, and finding our links to one another,” says Kallis.

For more information about Art is Land Network, visit

Register for their upcoming Conduit Roundtable, A Conversation: Finding Nature in Public Places and learn about upcoming events, visit