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Human Sprawl

Michelle Atkinson

April 1, 2023 @ 10:00 am - December 21, 2023 @ 4:00 pm

Closed Mondays

Exploring humanity’s tendency to live in excess with personal consumption impacting biodiversity.

Born from industrial waste, animal sculptures were created from thick kiln-cast slabs of once broken office window glass destined for the landfill. The hanging Soapweed was made by cutting and melting over 300 glass liquor bottles and the pine needles are filled with a mixture of broken window, bottle and stained glass scraps.

The life-size animals represent what we’ve lost due largely to human impact and are all classified as threatened or endangered by the government. This identification not only points out that our actions have consequences but also offers an educational opportunity for us to grow from. The bull trout represents water, the swift fox land and the whooping crane air. The soapweed and pine pieces bring plant life and insects into the conversation for a fulsome representation of the vast ecosystem we are part of.

Being displayed surrounded by rich plant life and rainbow film on the windows remind us of what we must protect and offers us a ray of hope in the seemingly negative conversation regarding threats to the environment in our current time.

Installation creator Michelle Atkinson points out that we have many meaningful topics to discuss in this moment in history, but that biodiversity will always be essential. She states “If I can inspire even one person to look at their own consumption and effect change in behaviour or provoke them to learn about conservation programs, that’s a win.”

Please join us at the Opening Reception for Human Sprawl and Leighton Art Centre’s 21st Annual Juried Members Exhibition on April 1, 2023, between 1 and 4 pm. Remarks will be held at 2 pm.

With thanks to Canada Council for the Arts and Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

About the Artist:

Michelle Atkinson is an internationally awarded multidisciplinary artist creating contemporary artwork based on her own evolving relationship with the environment. Her body of work ranges from decor and sculpture to themed installation and evokes a sense of place, shared connection and memory while educating on topics relating to biodiversity and the human existence.

Since 2010, Michelle has grown her fine art practice and exhibited her work in over 40 markets and exhibitions. In 2022, she was awarded a project grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to continue her Human Sprawl body of work which will be showcased in a site-specific exhibition at the Leighton Art Centre in April 2023.

Michelle was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and educated at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (NMPD ‘03). She is inspired by the stunning beauty of our natural vistas but also how human kind has altered the landscape and the consequential ripple effect of our actions. She strives to better her own carbon footprint by optimizing her art process and utilizing recycled materials (especially glass) whenever possible. The result being multiple levels of meaning through the work for those who wish to analyze not only the visual manifestation of the work, but also the process behind it.


Supported by:





April 1, 2023 @ 10:00 am
December 21, 2023 @ 4:00 pm
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Leighton Art Centre
282027 144 Street West
Foothills, Alberta T1S 0Y4 Canada
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