TTC subway closures are an inconvenience that are marginally disruptive at best, but an occasional necessity to allow for state-of-good-repair work or improvements to the system. This weekend's closure between St. Andrew and Union stations, however, was implemented for more than just infrastructure upgrades as another 60 panels by Toronto artist and OCADU Professor Stuart Reid were installed as part of his Zones Of Immersion art work at the Union Station. 

Zones of Immersion, Union Station Revitalization ProjectPhoto of Stuart Reid painting a panel, courtesy of stuartreid.ca

Reid's work, a station-length 166-panel glass installation was selected in a international competition to create an artwork for the renovated Union Station platform. The work will be completed before for the Pan Am games this summer, and will be a lasting introduction to our city for the thousands of commuters and visitors that are welcomed to Toronto through Union Station. 

Zones of Immersion, Union Station Revitalization ProjectImage of panel, courtesy of stuartreid.ca

Zones of Immersion is described as works that "reflect on the human condition within urban transit, a world both intensely collective and remarkably isolated, and a world where the anonymity of the no-man's zone offers us an unvarnished glimpse into the face, and hence perhaps a sliver of the psyche of one's fellow passengers." As Reid mentioned in an interview with UrbanToronto last summer, he is interested in revealing the self and the other in a way that demonstrates "both empathy and freedom." 

Zones of Immersion evolved from a series of sketches and poems that Reid took while traveling the subway and observing its patrons over several months. These images and text were reworked over a 7-foot tall by 500 foot long glass wall, created over seven years. The work was made using a variety of techniques from 13th century stained glass to 21st century digital printing and laminating. Part of this process was carried out in Paderborn, Germany where the artist made several trips to work in the Peters Studio to paint the panels. 

Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the work was masterfully designed to suit its environment. The panels were acid etched, sandblasted and laminated to withstand wind loads in the subway tunnel. They were also covered in a protected nano-coating to prevent against vandalism and break dust from the trains. 

Zones of Immersion, Union Station Revitalization Project"Sleep" from the In Transit series, courtesy of stuartreid.ca

To learn more about the work you can visit artist's website or the Gevik Gallery. From April 4-30, the gallery will exhibit a collection of Stuart Reid's preliminary sketches, entitled In Transit, from which Zones of Immersion evolved. There will also be on display a full-size copy of one of the panels to be installed at Union Station. Mr. Reid will be in attendance at the opening reception on Saturday April 11 from 1 PM to 5 PM.