This Toronto artist makes pop culture–inspired sculptures with everyday objects

This Toronto artist makes pop culture–inspired sculptures with everyday objects

When Briony Douglas was 16, she left her home in Woodstock to pursue a career as an artist in Toronto, where she rented a tiny apartment in Kensington and lived off packets of Mr. Noodles. “In my mind, there was no option but to keep going,” she says.

Douglas’s newest exhibit, Homage, pays tribute to icons who built empires from humble beginnings. Each piece recreates a famous symbol—like Michael Jordan’s “Jumpman” or Kanye’s graduation bear—and is made from everyday items she finds in antique shops, thrift stores and online. Here, Douglas discusses the inspiration behind some of her sculptures.

This is Douglas’s tribute to American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who rose to fame in the 1980s. The crown motif appeared frequently in his early work and Douglas wanted each point to represent a different phase in his life.

Douglas’s Jumpman sculpture tells the history of Michael Jordan and the Jordan brand. Like Douglas, Jordan came from a working-class family. “What Michael stands for resonates with me,” she says. “He had to persevere, and he heard ‘no’ a lot, but he pushed past all of it.”

Like Jumpman, Douglas’s Barbie tells the story of both the brand and its creator, Ruth Handler. Douglas says this piece is especially personal. “When I was a child, getting a Barbie was a big deal, because we couldn’t afford a lot of things,” she says.

Kanye West’s Graduation Bear, recreated here, appeared on his first three albums. Douglas is a huge fan of his early-2000s music.

This Coco Chanel piece was one of the most expensive sculptures to create. The items, most of which Douglas sourced online, cost about $2,500.

Homage runs until April 13 at 49 Ossington Ave (12 p.m.–8 p.m).