Chelsea Boos

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 30

Job Title: Designer, Artist and Curator of the Drawing Room Studios and Salon

Why She’s Top 40: She’s a sculptor who has looked beyond her own art to envision a bigger picture. She believes art can change communities. Even more profound, she believes that communities should impact art.

Guilty Pleasure: Hot dogs and milkshakes.

The pedestrian bridge where Chelsea Boos stands among dill and petunias overlooks Chinatown. Dubbed the LIVINGbridge, it’s flanked by heavy construction to the west and the old Remand Centre’s empty shell to the east.

“This community garden was a way to show people in the neighbourhood, ‘Look, you can get involved in revitalization. Take a space that you think has potential and do something about it,”‘ says Boos, who’s a sculptor and designer. She was one of three organizers who directed dozens of volunteers to fill and plant the space. “It was created very DIY – quick and dirty. Maybe in three years, people will envision something else.”

Boos is comfortable with the temporary nature of the project. This isn’t just a garden to Boos; it’s about “place making.”

“Every time I’m here conversations with someone new just start up,” she says. “Creative installations like this bring us out of our everyday lives to meet people we otherwise wouldn’t meet.”

As an artist, she’s drawn to public sculpture, particularly of the ephemeral variety. Working with the Edmonton Arts Council, she helped install the temporary art exhibits Dirt City: Dream City and Colour Alley.

“If you can put art right in people’s faces, outside of the gallery, you can engage with a different audience. I like the element of surprise or serendipity that comes with an art installation in a public space,” says Boos.

The call to move indoors began last year when she searched for an affordable, collaborative studio space. Nothing panned out, so she co-founded the Drawing Room Studios and Salon. Now eight artists, including an architect and bike mechanic, inhabit the store on 97th Street.

It’s been so successful that Boos has leased a larger space. “By fostering collaboration and critical engagement between creatives, I hope to make 97th Street an increasingly visible and active gathering place.” By merging action and art, Boos’s soft voice is helping others find theirs.

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