There’s a theme running through all of our art offerings this season: audience interaction. Our painting project was no exception, and last Thursday we invited our subscribers and the public to come see ‘M’, a fully touchable, changeable painting series, with 13,841,287,201 possible permutations.


Yeah, you read that right: 13,841,287,201.


We approached painter Mark B. Stephenson way back in July 2015 because we loved how his work blended painting, the maker movement, and human interaction. Mark was inspired by the creative and logistical challenge that the CSArt model presented, of creating work for a group of patrons who are supportive from the get-go but have the expectation of  each receiving a piece by the end of the process. “As this group of patrons would all be present at one time, I thought it would be great to have them engaged in a piece of art, an installation, shifting the experience from something that hangs on the wall to a collective interactive experience,” Mark says. “A communal experience that only exists in it’s entirety for a short duration of time.”




This thought process created ‘M’, a 49-piece grid of paintings designed to be changed and manipulated by viewers. Each small painting is in fact a ‘pixel box’, a pyramid-shaped block that rotates inside of a box structure, providing 3 small canvasses for Mark to paint. The pixel boxes were conceived and created by Mark, using a laser-cutter at the Ottawa Public Library’s Imagine Space.


Hung together, the 49 pixel boxes create three full self-portraits that play with the concept of pixels, moving from lower to higher picture resolutions. On February 16th patrons were invited to Clover Food & Drink to play with the piece for the first time, discovering the three self-portraits as well as some of the other 13,841,287,198 possibilities.



Thirteen billion is a lot to discover, so help us out by visiting ‘M’ at Clover (155 Bank Street) between now and March 31st! After that the work will be dismantled, and the pixel boxes distributed to CSArt subscribers. Each piece will exist as its own separate abstract work, and as a memory of the larger piece and the communal experience.


For Mark, pixel boxes present a whole new world of artistic exploration. “I’ve only begun exploring this new type of work, with lot of ideas for future projects inspired from ‘M’. I am very grateful for the support and opportunity CSArt has provided.”


For more of Mark’s projects, visit