About the Artwork

ROOTS is a community-engaged public art sculpture conceived by multidisciplinary creator and artist Mary Pan. Participating in the creative process at public forums and workshops, residents of the Pickering community worked in collaboration with the artist by contributing and assembling the objects, while the artist distilled the objects into sculptural form.

The familial objects encapsulated in a collection of wooden parcel boxes offer a commentary on the land and the traditions and memories of families, who have settled in Pickering. The sculpture sits on a field of red, representing the colour of Canadian pride and celebrates the expressive style and palette of Tom Thomson, whose paintings were often built upon a red base.

Created in Canada's sesquicentennial year of 2017, ROOTS commemorates the 140th anniversary of the birth of Pickering-born Canadian artist, Tom Thomson (1877-1917) and celebrates the life and art of the iconic artist. Thomson, born in Claremont, is an influential Canadian artist and an inspiration for the Group of Seven.

ROOTS by Mary Pan

ROOTS by Mary Pan 

Record of personal objects contained in the artwork (as described by the participants).
NameAgeMy object is...My object is about...
Ava 7 A picture frame This is about my and my family
Angelica 8 A coffee cup I come from Italy ad in Italy a lot of people love coffee in Italy!
Gianluigi 6 A plate This plate is used for a coffee cup from Italy.
Soraya 8 A flower Canada has lots of beautiful flowers.
Lukas 8 Bamboo Bamboo because I love pandas and I saw pandas.
Payton 8 A log When I went to Mexico.
Ryan 8 Stained glass Animal and nature
Samantha 12 A picture frame My family
Manu 9 A cat A pet being my family and that cats say meow
Natalie 7 Birdie/Shuttlecock Badminton is one of my favourite sports
Michelle 7 A baby toy It reminds me about babies
Amelia 7 Wallet & watch My love for shopping
Davianna 6 A snowplow The snowplow reminds me of the snow. We get wet and I love making snowmen.
jada 6 Bumblebee This object reminds me of being outside and I love playing outside with my sister
Sophia 5 A bird feeder It represents my family, and so everyone can see it.
Kennedy 7 A hockey stick Because i play hockey
Breanna 7 A necklace My Grandma's jewelry
Milos 6 A mask I chose this mask because it reminds me of my favorite superhero Batman
Liane 10 A sewing thread role I love to make stuff and with sewing I can be creative, have fun and make my own style!
Serena 10 Hearts Friendship
Isabelle 6 A rubber pig I chose this item because I like pigs and I think they are cute
Wyatt 6 A bird feeder I brought it because it represents Canada with the Canada tattoo
Mikayla 6 A draonfly ring I saw lots of dragonflies while I was camping
Serena 7 A shell My family and how we love the beach
Veronika 6 Camera I like pictures
Serena 5 A watch I chose it because I like and it is my favorite colour
Jacob 10 A calculator Math
Sierra 10 A picture frame I can put my picture in it
Jake 6 An Indigenous Badge My family
Lilly 11 A pretty bench This bench represents my family cause we like to go to the Pickering waterfront and site on the bench and watch the water
Zoe 5 A tin shaped like a heart Because you like hearts and it represents my family
Kya 10 A butterfly Nature and stuff that fly
Alyssa 12 A tiger made out of a frame and some circles A tiger because they are my favorite animal and is like a puzzle to put together and I love puzzles
Alea 11 Puzzle pieces All of my brothers and sister
Simone 10 A butterfly I chose this item because where I grew up there were a lot of butterflies
Saphiyah 9 A jumping rope Jumping because I like to jump rope
Magdalena 12 A pig The fact I like pigs and I guess there are a lot of pigs in Africa
Leah 8 A tiny teapot My object is special because it is cool
Arianna 9 Glued up rocks How I like to collect rocks
Moss 8 A frame Because I love my family
Hailey 10 A picture frame with a picture I chose it because it reminds me of my home because there there is pictures everywhere
Hannah 6 The letter B B is for my family name. I love it for my family with a palm tree because we love the beach because we love to be outside and a sparkle sticker for every member of my family
Alyssa 8 A rock My rock is like akrabe
Adam 7 Wood pieces & a picture frame I picked these objects because I thought it would look cool together
Linda 55 Crochet Doiley Memory of my Grandmother who was French Canadian. She knitted and crocheted for her family all the time. We still cherish these items
Debbie 58 #58 Household creativity
Joyce 80 Tonka Truck My 2 boys payed with Tonka Trucks like this all the time. The loved the machine( the scooper0 especially playing in my flower beds! Their names are Dan and Bruce. Occasionally they let their sister Betsy play with them.
Norma Over 70 Iron I remember when I was a child about 10 years old living in Jamaica. I used this iron heated on a wood stove. Then I cleaned with a cloth and then I pressed the clothes on a home-made iron boards made of cedar board wrapped in sheet cloth.
Mary 78 Cobbler's shoe form Memories of my father resoling our shoes, adding heel and toe taps to make our shoes last longer (1950's) in Toronto.
Indra   Mincing Mill I had one years ago
Patsy 64 Coral Geography. These are fossils. We were taught when I went to school in Jamaica. It takes years to grow back.
Maddi   Telephone, address Phone just crashed. Lost everything.
Chris 71 Shaving Brush My Father using this in England - until 2000 from age 13 - 136 - 2000
Cynthia 72 Tread I like to sew
Kay 72 Measuring spoons My Mother's teaching me to bake Brownie Fly-ups.
Nadia 55+ Seashells of life

Seashells collected on every beach I have visited over my life time. Every time I see one, I am transported in memory to that particular part of the world where I spent time. 

Anaa   Rolling Pin Watching my mother baking most days for the family (pies, scones, pastries, wedding cakes and 3 tier cakes)
Mahnoor 17 Traditional hand and purse from Singh, a Province in Pakistan mini prayer from Muslim faith. The country of Pakistan and the Muslim faith
Mahnoor 17 A traditional jewelry piece Each one represents one of my siblings, biggest to smallest
Woodhouse Family   Shells/Antique yard stick/frame Our annual trip to the seashore
Miles 12 A double-lipped blacksmith's spoon Pioneer Village. The earliest field trip memory I have
Sandy 38 A seashell How the seashell resembles like something Hindu use while prayer. A seashell in our culture means wealth and prosperity. If you place a seashell in your house or room, it brings you look. Also, when you put this object towards your car, you can hear some noise. It is beautiful and graceful sound that is very soothing. Also, it represents a God; Lakshmi
Alicia 39 A pipe My Dad used to smoke a pipe. Secretly when he was not watching I would sneak into the cabinet where he kept it and smell it
Maureen 65 Wooden wool spindle The spindle represents the gathering of ladies spinning wool; a collective to spin/knit/weave clothing for WWII
Lynnam 35 A tea cup and horses Tea parties...always spilling the tea! I love horses. The horses symbolize my little family and celebrating this year with a new baby
Nathan 14 3D printed City of Pickering Library logo A few years ago, cutting edge technology. I was the first person to design and have my own design printed on the maker-printer


About the Artist

Born in Taiwan, Mary Pan is a multidisciplinary creative who has been reinventing the way we invest in a space with her creative placemaking practice for over 15 years. In 2005, while working at the City of Toronto on the startup team for Nuit Blanche, she became interested in the cultural democracy that arisen from the early editions of the contemporary art event. Ever since, Mary has sought to democratize culture by increasing art accessibility for the populace through direct engagement in public realm and mostly in the realm of privately-owned public spaces.

Operating mostly outside of museums and galleries, her work engages communities, creatives and collaborators, and she often works directly with the populace in forums that are familiar settings and community hubs for recreation, amusement, and consumption. Amongst the artists she has collaborated with include Los Angeles-based musician Sarah Thawer and visual artists John Notten and Katharine Harvey.

Mary is a graduate in Fine Art and Art History from the University of Toronto. During her academic career, in association with the University Women’s Club, she co-founded the first education outreach program at the University of Toronto’s Blackwood Gallery.

View the location of this piece on the Public Art Map.