One of the most interesting things about living on the Prairies is the way in which we – collectively – respond to the shift in seasons. As the world outside my window slowly wakes up from winter sleep, the realm of human activity (and creative activity in particular) seems to have gone into overdrive, overnight. So many new projects appearing, new exhibitions opening … it seems we take celebrating the coming thaw very seriously out here! NOT a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it does make for a hectic pace.

Or perhaps it’s just me, becoming conscious of the number of things to be accomplished in the calendar over the next few months … likely a bit of both! Still, it is good to feel the blood moving, be surrounded by things to see and do … to really get going now that winter seems to be leaving us behind for another turn of the wheel.

To that end – I’m happy to say that I spent a lovely evening last week at the opening of Love Letters to Feminism at The Works International Visual Arts Society. LLTF is an international mail art project curated by Carolyn Jervis; Carolyn started the project in 2009, and this first iteration was exhibited through the Women’s Studies program at the University of Alberta. Since then, it’s traveled to Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa … and has gathered submissions from artists and writers from all over the world.

Exhibition View, Love Letters to Feminism 2012, Edmonton

Exhibition View, Love Letters to Feminism 2012, Edmonton

One of the best things about this project, to my mind, is the dynamic nature of the entire thing: each piece is part of an ongoing dialogue, and the exhibition is a conversation in progress which will continue to grow and change as more work is added. It’s not about having answers, it’s about asking questions of ourselves and of the cultures in which we all continue to find our way in and through.

Love Letters to Feminism 2012, Edmonton
Work by Kristen Hutchinson

Love Letters to Feminism 2012, Edmonton
Work by Kristen Hutchinson

It’s been an interesting personal journey too: I submitted my first piece for this show in 2009, when I was living in Halifax for a year, and the second work I did was submitted for this particular iteration of the exhibition three years later. In many respects, the two ‘letters’ couldn’t be more different from one another, including tone and approach to the subject.

My first letter, 2009
My second letter, 2012

That in itself has been an incredibly valuable thing to me as an artist – to see the concrete manifestation of a shift in perspective through my work. To be faced with such a tangible marker of change – at such a moment of transition in the year – seems fitting: it’s a clear reminder that both the work and the individual are always in process. The only constant is transformation, is change … and hopefully growth.

Love Letters to Feminism 2012, Edmonton
Work by Marian Switzer

This ever-changing body of work reminds me that there are innumerable ways to explore any subject, that it is in the exploration and the manifestation of those ideas that we discover not ‘the answer’ … but that there are only answers: in the ongoing work of really seeing as many sides of a subject as possible, and digging into each one in turn to find out what remains to be discovered. There is always more.

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