Growing up on a farm near Quebec’s Appalachian mountains, Vaillancourt developed a deep connection with the earth. This connection is seen in Presence, a large single block of granite which was mined in Vaillancourt’s home province of Quebec.
The artist chiselled deep channels throughout the rock to demonstrate a new relationship between the stone and space, revealing the core of this rock that has been taken from the earth. The granite’s rough texture symbolizes the tumultuous relationship between nature and humans. The durability of the granite combined with its sheer size reveals Vaillancourt’s intention for the natural stone to dominate the space in order to serve as a reminder that humans are closely connected with the earth.
Presence was sponsored by The House of Seagram and commissioned by Expo 67, where it was first exhibited. In 1968, the sculpture was a part of the Man and His World exhibition in Montreal and was then donated to York University at the request of The House of Seagram.