The Foreshore: Session 7

Tue 07 Feb 2017 7–9PM

A series of informal sessions of research and knowledge exchange

Buster Simpson at Emily Carr Visual Art Forums, Feb 6 |

Session 7: Buster Simpson and Coll Thrush, Feb 7

The Foreshore at Emily Carr University of Art and Design

VISUAL ART FORUMS | Buster Simpson

Monday February 6, 2017, 6:00 PM

Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Motion Capture Studio, Rm 285e, North Building

1399 Johnston St, Vancouver

Buster Simpson’s conceptual and process-based art practice has been focused on urban environmentalism for more than four decades. From his home base in Seattle, he has travelled extensively, working collaboratively across disciplines, social spheres, and generations to create an extensive body of work that inspires individuals and communities to be responsible environmental stewards. Known for artworks of varied duration and scale, from poetic, performative gestures to permanent, large-scale public art projects, Simpson’s talk will focus on his recent investigations into rising sea levels in Gubbio Italy, Captiva Florida and Puget Sound, and his proposals for artworks that address one of the most pressing global issues of our time.

The ECU Visual Art Forums are presented by the Audain Faculty of Visual Art + Material Practice. This event is co-presented with the City of Vancouver Public Art Program and

produced in partnership with Access Gallery and Other Sights for Artists’ Projects.

Image: Buster Simpson. “Seeking Grounding”, Gulf of Mexico off Captiva Island.

Session 7

Buster Simpson on aesthetics and curiosity and Coll Thrush on cites, power and survivance

Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

The Foreshore

222 East Georgia Street

Vancouver, BC

Join us for these brief presentations followed by discussion:

Buster Simpson will speak about how aesthetics can provoke curiosity, discovery and

connections that reveal the multiple, sometimes conflicting layers of meaning intrinsic to place. In this way artists working in the public realm can provide a counterbalance and edge to the proliferation of the notion of spectacle, such as "wayfinding," “branding,” and "identity packaging.”

Cities are central technologies of settler colonialism, and the landscapes they produce are palimpsests of power, exclusion, and survivance. Coll Thrush will discuss these issues based on his research on the connections between Indigenous and urban histories in North America and elsewhere. In particular, he will discuss the relationship between historical trauma, transformations of Indigenous territories, and the ways in which both settler and Indigenous memory are bound up in the land itself. This will be a place-based presentation, using particular sites and their stories to illuminate broader themes about meaning, belonging, and power.


Buster Simpson, an artist active since the 1970s, has worked on major infrastructure projects, site master planning, signature sculptures, museum installations, and community projects. Simpson has exhibited at The New Museum, MoMA PS1, Seattle Art Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum, Capp Street Project, International Glass Museum, and a recent retrospective at the Frye Art Museum. Simpson’s work is included in numerous public commissions throughout North America. Presently, he is working on commissions for the Seattle Seawall, a large landfill in San Antonio, Texas, and the Willamette River Greenway in Portland, Oregon and a pergola for the Seattle Amtrak Station. In the past two years, Simpson has conducted two five-week climate change confab at the Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island, Florida. Simpson often melds social and ecological concerns into an aesthetic, and continues to employ intervention and temporary prototypes as a way to inform his more lasting works in public.

Coll Thrush is associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia, where he teaches Indigenous, settler colonial, and place-based histories. He is the author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, a second edition of which will be published in February 2017. He is also the co-editor of Phantom Past, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American Culture and History (2011) and Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire (2016). His current project, entitled SlaughterTown, focuses on landscape, trauma, and memory in his hometown of Auburn, Washington, formerly known as Slaughter.



The Foreshore is a collaborative pursuit and shared space between Access Gallery and Other Sights. The Foreshore is inspired by the deep influence of the waterways on our cities and societies on the West Coast. As a place of unclear jurisdiction, and thus of contestation, friction, and constant movement, those who dwell in this zone must continually adapt to a changing environment. As a site it conjures histories specific to this region: narratives of trade and exchange, habitation and nourishment, resistance and violent erasure. Considering the potential of this zone as both concept and site, the project asks the following: How do we generate conditions of emergence? How can we take up space differently? How do we support unruly practices and futures?

Over the last 3 months, the storefront adjacent to Access’ gallery space at 222 East Georgia has hosted bi-weekly open discussion sessions informed by invited artists, writers, curators, and activists. Adding to this exciting program, we have launched an artist-in-residence series to provide space and time to artists interested in addressing questions of the foreshore.

If you would like to receive email invites to The Foreshore events, please sign up on the dedicated project website:


Other Sights for Artists' Projects is a non-profit arts organization that develops new and unexpected exhibition platforms outside of the gallery context. Other Sights collaborates and shares resources with organizations and individuals to present artworks that consider the aesthetic, economic and regulatory conditions of public places and public life. For more information visit 

Other Sights gratefully acknowledges the support of the British Columbia Arts Council, The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 15, and private donors without whom this project would not be possible.


Established as an non-profit artist-run centre in 1991, Access Gallery is platform for emergent and experimental art practices. We enable critical conversations and risk taking through new configurations of audience, artists, and community. For more information visit

Access Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming, the City of Vancouver, the Hamber Foundation, the Burrard Arts Foundation, the Contemporary Art Gallery, NSB Reederei, and our committed donors, members and volunteers.