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Steve Higgins, Maquette for Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild) 2013
Educated in drawing and printmaking, Steve Higgins began to build large wood-framed structures in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while teaching at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. These works incorporated motifs such as trestles, sluices, and ramps. As the influence of American post-minimalism waned, opportunities to work on an architectural scale dried up, and Higgins turned from what he describes as drawing in three dimensions to drawing on paper. His interest in architecture continued.
In the summer of 2012, MSVU Art Gallery invited Higgins (who has lived in Halifax since 2003) to take part in a production residency at the gallery, during which he would transpose elements from his drawings into a wooden structure that would utilize the expansive gallery space to full advantage. The resulting installation, Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild), remains the largest ever built in the gallery and the most ambitious project yet undertaken by the artist. The project signified Higgins’ triumphant return, after 31 years, to drawing in three dimensions.
Maquette for Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild) was created by Higgins in advance of the residency as a model for the large scale installation. It was used in concert with Higgins’ paper studies, in what was entirely a manual design process. The maquette was a constant reference for Higgins and his construction crew (David Dahms, Najet Ghanai, Aaron Sinclair) while they built the site-specific construction over a six-week period in March and April 2013. This model is so precisely rendered by the artist that the crew measured individual balsam pieces to get accurate cutting measurements for the full- scale version.
Maquette for Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild) is an artifact from the temporary installation in the MSVU Art Gallery and provides historical documentation for the project. The model also highlights Higgins’ facility with miniaturization particularly when it comes to buildings and industrial landscapes. Examples of finished works incorporating miniature architectural elements are the dystopian table-top models from the Urban series included in the exhibition, All Things Considered: Thoughts About Cities and History, War and Peace, which toured Canada in 2011.