Nice threads: LRT-themed embroidery stitches together popular Edmonton transportation story

To the list of ways you experience the future of the LRT in Edmonton—debates at City Council, news media stories, editorials, ads, construction, social media commentary, discussion at the dinner table—there is now a piece of embroidery.

“I remember seeing a map of the LRT a few years ago and thinking that would be cool as an embroidery,” said Davis Levine. “The only thing was I didn’t do embroidery.”

That was then. Levine has now done three embroideries, the latest being a colourful, nine-inch-diameter representation of Edmonton’s current and future LRT lines. He posted it on Twitter.

It got some love.

“It’s probably the most popular tweet I’ve ever sent out,” said Levine. “I think it appeals to the Edmonton boosters and the transit nerds out there.”

Detail from Davis Levine embroidery. All photos courtesy Davis Levine.

A group of friends

Davis Levine is a California-born, Edmonton-teenaged, University of Alberta-educated former Edmontonian now working in Victoria who is moving back to Edmonton next month.

When pandemic isolation was at its deepest, Levine and a group of friends from the Ninety Bears Arts Collective Zoomed together. As they all talked and crafted, he embroidered.

It took three hours and six colours of thread (yellow, pink, green, blue, orange and “kind of a magenta and then black for the transit hubs”) to get the idea to the finished product.

The result depicts the existing Capital and Metro Lines, the under-construction Valley Line Southeast, the planned Valley Line West and Metro Line extension. Also embroidered is a Centre Line “because I remain hopeful,” said Levine.

The trickiest stitching was the North Saskatchewan River.

“On the first run the river was a light, light blue, but it needed to be more prominent, so I did it over,” he said.

Behind the scene

Art of change

Levine said there’s more to the LRT embroidery love than love for embroidery.

“My sense is that Edmontonians have a real desire for a change in how the city is laid out, how they move in the city, a move away from being car-centric—and the LRT is a representation of that,” Levine said.

But the embroidery matters, too.

The project, he said, shows how art, design and arts-based practices work as a powerful tool in conversations about the future.

“It can be a more accessible and sometimes collaborative way to envision a hopeful future,” Levine said.

More embroidery coming

Levine’s next project is already taking shape in his head.

“My intention is to do something with the plan to redraw the districts for the City Council wards,” he said.

Davis Levine, supplied

Editor’s note: for those who’d like to supplement their LRT embroidery reading with a words-and-pics account, check out the latest on the Valley Line Southeast work.