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Public Art



The spectacular mobile that hangs in the soaring atrium space at Central Library was created by Canadian artist Deborah Moss and her partner Edward Lam. These internationally renowned artists have been commissioned to design pieces for hotels and restaurants around the world, as well as for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

By way of supporting the arts, the City of Kitchener allots one per cent of the budget of all capital project towards public art; part of those proceeds were used to invest in the Central Library’s spectacular piece.

In 2010, Kitchener Public Library CEO Sonia Lewis sat on the public art jury that reviewed submissions from artists around the world. The winning submission symbolizes change and transformation, a fitting theme for the library.

The piece is reminiscent of book pages scattered in mid-air, and it will move and change as people from the community walk by it, and as the light hits it in various ways throughout the day.

Flux is made up of 900 strands and about 20,000 individual polycarbonate sheets, each silk-screened with red text. The red is heavier on the lower sheets, gradually fading and almost disappearing as the strands rise into the atrium.

  • The colour red was chosen to evoke the ink of early printing technology.
  • The darkest red sheets contain dense text from the Gutenberg Bible, symbolizing the beginning of print technology.
  • Moving higher, the next sheets are less dense and are made up of a conglomerate of text from non-alphabetical scripts, symbolizing multiculturalism and the permeation of knowledge.
  • The third shade of red is made up of the phrase Lorem Ipsum. Rooted in Latin culture, these words are used today used as a place holder - in Flux, they symbolize a window onto other expressions.
  • The fourth and lightest shade, stretching up toward the natural light, is rendered entirely in the 0s and 1s of the digital era.

Sadly, Edward Lam passed away a year ago. His partner, Deborah Moss and their colleagues are carrying on his work, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have here in Kitchener one of the last awe-inspiring projects that he worked on.

PDF iconLearn more about Flux and the installation process




In October 1961, the Kitchener Library Board with its architect, Carl Rieder, decided that a mural was necessary to complete the ideal library, supported by the Canada Council.

In January 1962, Jack Bechtel was commissioned. Bechtel was born in Kitchener in 1923, served in the RCAF in World War II, and studied at the Ontario College of Art. 

Dozens of experimental drawings were made as the ideas for his theme "Enlightenment,” developed. Three months later a scaled sketch of the artist's conception was approved by Mr. Jarvis and the Library Board committee, Mrs. G. E. Eastman and Herbert Odd.

During these three months, as well, the unique indented outline of the mural was traced, and the special rough-textured surface of lime plaster was effected as Mr. Bechtel worked directly with the plasterers. For the next six months, so that the artist would be undisturbed, he worked from library closing till dawn, transferring his ever-evolving idea to the wall.

The final dimensions of the mural are 12 ½ by 36 feet. From commission to completion, the mural represents over nine months of the artist's work. It was officially unveiled on November 2nd, 1962. At the time of his death in 1966, the mural was considered his best-known work.

PDF iconLearn more about Jack Bechtel and Enlightenment