Submitted by Catherine Widgery


Client: North Toronto Collegiate Institute

Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team


Catherine Widgery


North Toronto Collegiate Institute

Public Art Agent

Catherine Williams

Art Consultant

Isadore Michas

Industry Resource

Franz Knoll

Industry Resource

Michel Bernier


Perforated aluminum and stainless steel. 20 x 10 x 10'.
Words are the building blocks for thought. They give shape to our ideas. These cubes embody the energy and power of words within a structure of reason and order. Yet thought is without physical substance so these words dissolve in the shifting light, personifying the effervescence of our intellectual journey.
The sculpture is 70% open space: a metaphor for an open, permeable mind. These words were selected intuitively by North Toronto Collegiate Institute students to be evocative without any single interpretation.


The new school design for NTCI was open structures; this was a metaphor for the type of institution where the students are open to ideas and Mindshadows carried this idea into the art. The work stands as a signal in the courtyard at the entry of the school to announce a place of thought, ideas and learning. At night the lighting is slowly evolving from being illuminated throughout to being illuminated only in the innermost cube to reflect the quiet workings of the mind.


This project was based on close collaboration with all of the different people involved, every step of the way. First with the students at the school who I asked to come up with provocative words that had meaning in their lives. Then with the engineer to find a way to make this massive form without any massive members that would detract from the sense of lightness and openness. Franz Knoll said it was one of the more challenging engineering projects of is over 50 years as an engineer (and he designed IM Pei's pyramid at the Louvre!) In order to be able to fabricate this, we had to collaborate closely among the draftsman Isadore who built this in a 3D virtual world and the water jet cutting company and the fabricator Michel Bernier. Finally I worked with Roger Smith the lighting designer to design a mysterious lighting program while hiding the lights so they would not detract from the clean lines of the sculpture.