This art project is for any Canadian who grew up in the '90s

Remember Super Mario 3 and Hilroy scribblers? They were big in the '90s, and now they're big in Sudbury — literally.

Remember Super Mario 3 and VHS? They were big in the '90s, and now they're big in Sudbury

Be kind, please rewind. From Nico Glaude's public-art project, Cut-Out Memories. (Instagram/@nicoglaude)

It's an art project for everybody — especially if you remember the '90s — and the artist behind it has no plans of stopping.

For the last six months, Nico Glaude has been leaving surprise sculptures all over his hometown of Sudbury, Ont.

Glaude, 27, crafts things like a six-foot-tall Blockbuster VHS tapes, dino-sized boxes of Flintstones Vitamins and Hilroy scribblers that could flatten a third grader.

Building everything on location using nothing but cardboard, duct tape and paint, the artist has been documenting the results on Instagram, and he's calling the project Cut-Out Memories.

Per the title, everything in this series is actually a direct call-back to some moment from Glaude's childhood. But the subjects — fortune cookies, Post-it notes, night lights — are just ordinary enough that any viewer could say the same, too.

"Really, to me, it's about nostalgia and paying homage to it," Glaude tells CBC Arts. "It's about how memories resonate with you as opposed to these commercial things that you buy. It's how they make you feel."

"We're so focused on what's next in life," he says. Cut-Out Memories, he explains, is meant to be his DIY antidote. Making these scuptures is his personal way of slowing down and "rediscovering the little moments." And if you're wandering around downtown Sudbury only to walk into an an air freshener taller than a Christmas tree, you're going to stop for at least an instant. Maybe it'll bring a little joy — and maybe, if you're like Glaude, it'll have you flashing back to some memory, too.

When not playing with cardboard, Glaude works as the mural coordinator for Sudbury's Up Here Festival, an annual art and indie music event that's curated more than 20 murals for the city since 2013. One of these projects, by the French duo Ella & Pitr, is among the festival's more notable gets — and you can, conveniently, see it for yourself on Google Maps since it's splashed on the roof of the local science centre.

These are memories that faded away, and these installations literally fade away.- Nico Glaude, artist

This project, though, is special to Glaude. It's more personal, he explains. He's emotionally invested. And at his current rate, he's dedicated to making two new installations per month. "It's going to go on forever," he says. "I can't wait for five, 10 years from now to see what objects will resonate with me."

He never tags the locations on Instagram — a deliberate choice that gives everything a bit of mystery, plus an added dose of universality. (The settings are usually just generic enough to read as being anywhere in the suburban universe.)

But Glaude's not dropping powered-up Nintendo cartridges and supersized Zellers bags around town in secret, like some teenager tagging the dumpsters behind 7-11. In real life, this art project draws an audience — especially since he works on location, usually in the middle of the day.

"I've had a lot of comments where people say I look like a kid building a fort or something," he laughs. "People are super curious about what I'm doing. It's always cool to have immediate feedback from people."

And going off his Instagram comments alone, the feedback is good.

But that's not why Glaude is committed to continuing Cut-Out Memories indefinitely. 

"It's always very cool to see people nerd out about it, but to me, my favourite part of it is that it does fade away. It does get forgotten," says Glaude, who always leaves his artwork behind when he's done.

"These are memories that faded away, and these installations literally fade away."

Check out a few highlights from Cut-Out Memories and follow the artist on Instagram for more.


Leah Collins

Senior Writer

Since 2015, Leah Collins has been senior writer at CBC Arts, covering Canadian visual art and digital culture in addition to producing CBC Arts’ weekly newsletter (Hi, Art!), which was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award in 2021. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University's journalism school (formerly Ryerson), Leah covered music and celebrity for Postmedia before arriving at CBC.


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