Public Studio is the collective art practice of filmmaker Elle Flanders and architect Tamira Sawatzky. Public Studio creates large-scale public art works, lens-based works, films, and immersive installations. Grounded in the personal, social, and political implications of landscape, Public Studio’s multidisciplinary practice engages themes of political dissent, war and militarization, and ecology and urbanization, through the activation of site. Public Studio often works in collaboration with other artists.
Elle Flanders completed her Ph.D. at York University’s newly created practice-based research visual arts program in 2014 and has mentored with some of the art world’s most notable artists, including Mary Kelly and Martha Rosler, at the Whitney ISP and Rutgers University, respectively. Flanders has a strong history of community engagement and has created award-winning films and installations. Her longstanding interest in the socio-political realm and how it relates to landscape have led her, in collaboration with Sawatzky, to produce site-specific public art installations that are immersive and re-examine the role of audience as participant/witness.
Tamira Sawatzky is an architect by training, having worked for the firm MJMA in Toronto from 1999–2010, designing large-scale, award-winning, community-based projects. Sawatzky began a collaborative art practice with Elle Flanders in 2009, bringing a spatial focus that contributes to the development of immersive installations and multifaceted exhibitions. Sawatzky’s architectural background lends itself to an emphasis on the structural, provoking a conversation between art and architecture and the politics of landscape and place. Since forming Public Studio, Sawatzky and Flanders have garnered critical attention, winning several public art commissions and awards, including the 2013 Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Award. A publication about their work is slated to be published by Black Dog Press in 2018.
Public Studio is based in Toronto, Canada.