Lower Campus Sculpture

This sculpture originally came to lower campus in Summer 2017 as part of La Balade pour la Paix, an open-air museum along Sherbrooke Street, created by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with McGill University, for Montreal's 375th anniversary. The generous support of the Monk Family Foundation has allowed the Visual Arts Collection to keep the sculpture on loan to McGill, where it will continue to enhance the outdoor space on lower campus. Centering on themes of community and the individual's relationship with their environment, the sculpture is especially suited to display on a University campus.


Jonathan Borofsky, Human Structures, 2010. On loan from the Vancouver Biennale. Photo: Denis Farley.

This human tower is composed of 64 brightly coloured and interrelated archetypal figures. The galvanized steel plates are riveted to each other, much like the pixels of our digital age, symbols of universal interconnectedness. For the artist, this organic, modular structure connotes an ongoing process of construction and learning: “We are all constantly in a process of connecting together to build our world ...Humans use structures to build.”

Following his studies in the United States and France, Jonathan Borofsky set up his studio in Ongunquit, Maine. A private man, his public artworks have nevertheless made their way around the world. In 2008, he produced a 20 metre People Tower, with 136 figures, for the Olympic Park in Beijing. Human Structures, instead, was commissioned for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Partly inspired by monuments to workers, the sculpture also evokes human pyramids, the most famous of which are the “castells,” or castles, of the Catalans -human pyramids that can reach up to ten storeys.

Borofsky's art explores the complementarity of opposites -singularity and multiplicity, simplicity and complexity, naivety and sophistication. His art is also a kind of self-portrait: “using the human form as a symbol helps me to understand the connection between my psychological and philosophical self and the world around me," he says. "I’m trying in both cases to explore who I am and who we all are.”