If you’ve driven down Waverley Street, through the underpass at night, you might have been curious about the glowing clam shells protruding from the ground. They are in fact a piece of public art called Outcroppings commissioned by the City of Winnipeg in conjunction with the Winnipeg Arts Council.

The Winnipeg Arts Council has recently created a new Winnipeg Public Art Works app to help Winnipeggers explore public art like this in the city.

The purpose of these artworks is to increase “the use and enjoyment of public space and [build] social cohesion,” according to the Winnipeg Arts Council website.

“During the pandemic, we wanted to create a new tool to help Winnipeggers connect with each other through the arts,” said Tamara Rae Biebrich, Winnipeg Arts Council’s senior project manager of public art.

These artworks are made when the city, Winnipeg Arts Council, and local communities agree on both a need for the piece and a setting. Then, artists are called to submit ideas that reflect the community and environment.

Local app developer Kevin Doole designed the app with Biebrich as a modern replacement for the Explore Winnipeg’s Public Art booklet.

The app includes a description of each artwork, fun facts, and questions about the art that users can try to answer. Some artists have also recorded descriptions of their work to include in the app.

The app also suggests other local attractions nearby.

Of the 70 artworks in the app, most are in downtown Winnipeg. However, the pieces extend to all parts of the city including Bunn’s Creek, Fort Garry, and Kildonan Park.

Dyan Uy, a business management student at Red River College Polytechnic, uses the new Winnipeg Public Art Works app to research Untitled by Cliff Eyland on Sunday, April 24, 2022. The app replaces the Explore Winnipeg’s Public Art booklet./CALEB DUECK

Dyan Uy, a business management student at Red River College Polytechnic, has become familiar with the app. “It’s a big help for newcomers,” she said.

Uy downloaded the Winnipeg Public Art Works app to familiarize herself with the city when she came to Winnipeg from the Philippines last December.

She said the app is user friendly and she appreciates having the option of following the artists on Instagram and seeing more of their work.

“For a new app, it’s outstanding,” Uy said. “Post-pandemic this will be an amazing educational tool.”

The Winnipeg Public Art Works app was released on Sept. 22, 2020 and has over 100 downloads since then.