Songs of Reciprocity

Songs of Reciprocity by Ed Pien is one of many public artworks installed across Mississauga.

Screen public art outside M City building

Ed Pien, 2023
Burnhamthorpe Road

About the artwork

Songs of Reciprocity is a series of windscreens located along Burnhamthorpe Road. The artworks incorporate organic and geometric patterns from four distinct environmental ecosystems: Lichen fields, coral reefs, mycorrhizal fungi networks, and bee colonies. They celebrate the theme of reciprocity through community, generosity, resilience, strength, creativity, agency, and liveliness of all living entities. The artwork highlights the mutually beneficial relationships vital for well-being and honours the relationship between people and nature.

The organic and geometric patterns in the designs complement the surrounding architectural features and nearby green spaces. The implications of reciprocity in the artworks will further inspire meaning in the local community’s daily life through this compelling art.

The lichen is recognized as one of the most ancient of entities living on earth. Each lichen’s complex structure comprises an alga and two different kinds of fungi. Through a remarkable symbiotic relationship of reciprocity, lichen helped launch and sustain our ecosystem. Lichens are surprisingly diverse in colour, texture, size, shape, and form. The organic and lace-like patterns inspired the artwork’s design.

Coral reefs are communities that comprise one of the most complex, ancient, and impactful ecosystems. Their extensive limestone structures function as powerful bio-filters, and play a vital role in biogeochemical processes and in maintaining a complex ecosystem essential for food reproduction. Coral reefs are incredibly diverse and astoundingly beautiful. The abundant array of coral patterns influenced this design.

Mycorrhizal fungi networks establish a mutually beneficial relationship with plants by forming connections with their root systems. Approximately 90 percent of all land-based vegetation rely on this reciprocal relationship to obtain essential nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. In return, the fungi receive nourishment in the form of sugar produced by plants through photosynthesis. The intricate interconnection and expressiveness of root systems, mycelium, and the vascular structures of cells inspired the final design of this artwork.

Bees and pollination epitomize the sense of reciprocity and exchange, and the honeycomb structures of bees evoke the sense of communities and the notion of home. The intermingling of bees and plants offers a glimpse into the beauty and wonder of life cycles in nature. We delight in the taste of sweet honey and are nourished and sustained by fruits and vegetables, thanks to the activities of bees. This artwork’s geometric motifs were inspired by honeycomb patterns and traditional needlepoint work.

About the artist

Ed Pien is a Canadian artist who emigrated from Taiwan to London, Ontario at the age of 11. He received an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Western University and an MFA from York University. He has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including at the Drawing Centre in NYC, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the National Art Gallery of Canada.

He has also participated in biennales in Montreal, Sydney, Moscow, Beijing, Curitiba, and Asunción. His work is collected by various institutions and private collectors. Pien is represented by Birch Contemporary in Toronto, Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montreal and Galerie Maurits van de Laar in The Hague. He was a Visiting Artist Professor at Concordia University and has taught at the University of Toronto.

His work explores the notion of time, the sentience of nature as well as memory, the representation of trauma, resilience, and empathy.

For more, follow the artist on Instagram @edpien2022 or visit


More information

The artwork is part of the City of Mississauga Public Art Collection and was commissioned in collaboration with the M City Condominiums, Urban Capital, and Rogers Real Estate Development Limited.

Photography by Tori Lambermont.