Posted on November 5, 2011 by Christopher Thrall

Recent Augustana art professor Isla Burns comments on Highway 13 East, which was donated to Augustana last week.

By Christopher Thrall

“I was teaching at Augustana and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape here,” reflects Edmonton artist Isla Burns as she watches the massive sculpture being manhandled up onto its plinth. The piece, titled Highway 13 East, was inspired by the geography she drove through daily on her commute. “What you notice most in the winter are the windbreaks that the farmers put up.”

Though she didn’t enter her studio intending to craft a windbreak, her husband identified it after she was finished: when she drove the route again, she could pick out the specific spot that shaped the sculpture in her imagination.

She gave the piece to her scrap dealer, Paul Ryan of Ryan Industries in Nisku, and it resided at the Peter Robertson Gallery in Edmonton. When she told the story of its creation to Paul, he donated it to Augustana. The graceful sculpture, now part of the University of Alberta Art Collection, was installed last week on the second floor of the Forum between the Finance Office and faculty offices above the Library.

Highway 13 East is crafted of forged and welded steel and requires four people to lift.

“It just seems that it belongs here,” Isla says as she gazes upon the piece. “I can’t dictate what people will see when they look at it – everyone sees things for themselves. I just hope that they walk away with a really good feeling.”

Learn more about Isla Burns here.

If you have any feedback about the sculpture, please share it below!


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