I’ve been invited to participate in a Blog Hop Around the World, in which people share something about their current projects and creative processes. I think it’s a lovely opportunity to learn a little bit more about the work that goes on ‘behind the studio door’, and see the threads that run through creative work of all types across the globe.
My thanks to June Hunter – The Urban Nature Enthusiast for the tag! June creates beautiful photographs and photo-based art, home decor pieces, and jewellery items in her Vancouver studio. June and I share a passion for corvids – ravens, crows, magpies and the like – and I really appreciate her keen eye, and her ability to capture the intelligence and quirkiness of these creatures.
So … to answer the Blog Hop questions:
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
I think like most artists, I have several things on the go at the same time in the studio and otherwise. This is a life of juggling: there’s the time spent in the studio, making work and sorting through ideas, of course. But I spend a good deal of time on the ‘administration’ of my practice as well: writing exhibition proposals and grants, keeping my files and expenses in order, keeping on top of the work flow, materials orders, and contract details for upcoming exhibitions, and doing a little self-promotion via the web. Add in taking the time to see other artists’ work at exhibitions, volunteer work at various art-related organizations, laundry, gardening, a little downtime, and sleep … and it’s a pretty full life.
Currently, I am preparing for a big two-person exhibition that will open in January 2015. I will be showing some of the NEST series that I have been working on and refining for the last couple of years. The images below are from the last time this work was exhibited, at the Art Gallery of St. Albert.
I’m quite excited by the way the work has evolved, especially in the last year; I have several new pieces well underway, and at this point (maybe that should read ‘for now’!)
Outside of studio time, I am also just back from a short trip – I was in Toronto for the CARFAC National Conference ‘Artists to Artists’ for five days.
CARFAC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the socio-economic position of professional visual artists in Canada. CARFAC has been instrumental in establishing a professional fee structure that pays artists for the use of their copyrighted work and for their professional services: exhibition fees, copyright payments for image reproduction, payments for artist talks, and so on. I’m really looking forward to re-connecting with the artists that I have come know through CARFAC, and meeting a bunch of new faces too! Back home, I volunteer my time on the Board of Visual Arts Alberta-CARFAC, the provincial affiliate for CARFAC National.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS?
This is by far the most difficult – and interesting – question I’ve faced in some time. Perhaps it comes down to approach. I see myself as having several things in my ‘toolkit’, that I take out and use or experiment with, depending on the subject of a given piece or body of work. That is to say, I don’t use just one method of expression or image creation or discipline within the visual arts. That makes me a bit hard to pin down for some – because I don’t fit neatly into one category … and I quite like that on a number of levels.
I have two distinct (but increasingly related) “threads” to my practice. One is studio based, and results in a range of output, including photo-based 2D work, drawings, assemblages, block printing, and some sculpture.
The other is very much away from the studio, and revolves around creating large-scale, site-specific installation and sculpture.
In terms of materials and formal elements, my studio-based work often is created with transparency in mind, and on translucent or transparent substrates, and that’s not tremendously common. I am drawn to layering and accretion in image making, and also to the idea of ‘peeling back’ and exposing elements that rest below the surface – literally and metaphorically.
WHY DO YOU CREATE WHAT YOU DO?
I am fascinated by narrative in many ways – that’s my training in literature talking! But really, what I’m getting at here is the connections between stories and things and places … and how all of those things work together to contribute to our understanding of identity, of self.
I guess really I am a ‘closet phenomenologist’ … I work with things and the way our understanding of things tells us about how we perceive the world and ourselves. And how changeable and slippery all of that is … that’s the fun part.
HOW DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?
I begin with an issue or idea that I need to investigate. It’s really about exploration and detective work in a way: I use the work I create to explore ideas about how we live in the world and make sense of who we are in relation to it.
So, things like time, memory, absence … ideas about home, identity … these areas are the jumping off points for the creation of work. Reading and research – and writing – offer things that flesh out the ideas, and bring me to starting points for making work. For example, the NEST series that I am (still) working on began with rereading Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space – chapter 4 concerns nests in particular.
In the end, it’s about communicating. Finding threads of common experience, and talking about living in the world through visual means – because for me, sometimes words can’t quite transmit what I see or want to say.
It’s about find a path through it all, and occasionally making sense of it.
And it is now my pleasure to pass the Blog Hop on “across the Pond” … to Emily Hughes at Searching to See. I’m really interested in hearing more about Emily’s process and sources of inspiration – and I think you’ll enjoy hearing from her too!