Canadian Constellations – curious arts

Canadian Constellations art installation by Giselle Boehm, proof of concept design.

Giselle Boehm recaps her #DIY City Project

Giselle Boehm

Giselle Boehm

This spring, Make Something Edmonton put out the call for projects that transform a public space somewhere in our city, asking makers to synchronize these placemaker projects to launch simultaneously across the city on June 21st — hailing this community-driven day as DIY City. UAlberta design students enrolled in Des 337/437/537 “Transforming Spaces of Communication” responded to the call for projects as a course assignment. Giselle Boehm was one of the two U of A design students awarded with a Project Accelerator Grant Placemaking Edition grant. She was able to take her proposed idea, Canadian Constellations, to reality.

The featured image above is a proof of concept design for Giselle Boehm’s art installation, Canadian Constellations. In this guest post below, Giselle shares how the project evolved as she worked to put it into place in Churchill Square. 

The process behind Canadian Constellations was unique in the way that it began as a proposal for a class project in my spring-session design class at the university. Being selected for a micro-grant through Make Something Edmonton was an unexpected surprise as a result of what was only supposed to be a proposal for a class project, but was exciting in the way that it allowed me the opportunity and resources to bring my vision to life.

My goal with this project was to bring attention to the location, as a function of both space and time. The exhibit was specifically coordinated with National Aboriginal Day (June 21st), and the date of the summer solstice; the piece itself working as a visual metaphor for both of these occasions by drawing on stories and constellations from Aboriginal cultures, and through its representation of the sky and its associated calendar. The piece also aims to become a metaphor for the spirit of Edmontonian’s, specifically, in its responsiveness to weather conditions (as a symbol for Edmonton’s strength and spirit in response to harsh northern weather conditions). The writing on the piece, “We Come Alive With The Rain,” relates directly to this metaphor, and how one of the most beautiful things about Edmonton is, in fact, our community spirit as a response to the natural adversities of our unique latitude as a northern metropolis.



Initially, the vision involved applying images directly to the concrete in Churchill Square. However, there was the concern that the materials would cause damage or staining to the concrete. As we couldn’t guarantee that this wouldn’t occur, the project had to be adjusted in an effort to accommodate this change of plan, which was probably the greatest challenge in this process. There were also issues in the materials testing stage of the project, where the water-proofing product I was working with was not completely invisible when dry (which was a main part of the visual effect that I was after). In the end, challenges such as this caused the project to take a new form. Instead, the image was applied to several large sheets of plywood, covered in chalkboard spray paint. The darkness of the chalkboard ended up working to our advantage, in furthering the metaphor of the night sky.


Even with some setbacks, the piece came together with great success. Make Something Edmonton was extremely helpful and accommodating throughout the whole process. and in the end, the piece came joyfully to life with splashes of water and with the help of children and other passerbys in the square. Animated with this playful interaction, this piece hopefully allowed an otherwise forgotten corner of asphalt in the square, to become a space of reflection on Canada’s natural beauty, history, and culture.

Giselle Boehm

GiselleheadshotGiselle Boehm is a visual communications designer, currently entering her fifth year of the Bachelor of Design program at the University of Alberta. Her minor is in business and marketing, and she is a passionate artist, illustrator, typographer and painter. Her freelance design company, F̶O̶O̶L̶I̶S̶H̶ Designs, commissions a variety of design and artwork commissions. For more information about her work, follow her on instagram @giselleboehm, or email her atgboehm@ualberta.caPrevious articleStep-by-step puppet-makingNext articleAmanda Forrest-Chan: felt breathless all day