I am extremely happy to say that the McMullen Gallery at the University of Alberta Hospital will be hosting my exhibition 21st Century Nesting Practices!
This iteration of the work will feature a new video piece, and a soundscape created from a combination of my own field recordings and a selection of recordings from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology holdings.
The Exhibition Opening Reception is January 10, 2018 from 7pm – 9pm.
If you are in the Edmonton area, please stop in! The exhibition is up until February 25, 2018.
My thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for their support in realizing the soundscape for this exhibition, and to the McMullen for hosting me.
It seems growth and change are afoot in almost every way imaginable.
Last night, the province in which I live held a remarkable election, with results that have transformed the political landscape here – and certainly made history. A blast of fresh Spring air in this place.
I’ve been back for a couple of weeks from Vienna, recovered from the jet lag and hit the ground running; digging into a big new project that has me very excited: York:Moments. A project that revolves around reclaiming the history of a place and a neighbourhood, gathering stories and memories with a community. A new life of sorts for streets and empty spaces that allow them in some small way to live again through images and (re)tellings … making a place that no longer exists live again.
These things are about potential, about working and building new things out of the old, and saving what’s precious in one way or another … just like the birds do each year:
Here, a nest within a nest. A bird decided that one of my nest sculptures would be a good spot to build a new home, perhaps.
It remains to be seen what will come of these various activities – for me and for the birds.
But I do know that right now, starting new things and seeing change unfold is exactly what has to happen. It’s Spring (even if the snow today would have us believe otherwise).
I have some things I’d like to share with you, that I hope you buy from me, to give as gifts to people in the next while.
First off, I have some lovely hand-bound poetry books that would like to have new homes.
Text by award-winning Vancouver poet Catherine Owen; 7 hand-pulled block print illustrations by me. I carved the blocks, printed the images on rice paper, the text on straw paper, and bound the books. Limited edition of 50.
The poems are based on the seven basic building forms that birds use to build nests, and deal with love and the work of living and caring for one another in ways that are insightful, and always threaded through with a keen understanding of human relationships.
$50 each, shipping via Canada Post extra (if needed).
I also have a new series of photo-based work I’ve just put up at Credo on 104th Street in Edmonton AB. These are a selection urban/street based images I’ve been collecting for the last several years: quirky little moments from various cities in Canada.
Manipulated digital images printed on mylar and archival fine art photo paper, framed and ready to hang. These are non-editioned images, so if you want something in a different size, get in touch, and we can talk.
Prices range from $45 – $90, shipping via Canada Post extra (if needed).
But there is a point to me telling you about these things, beyond the possible sale …
Buying from the maker of the goods you choose gives both buyer and seller so much more than just the positive conclusion to a mutually agreeable monetary transaction.
You have the option to get to know the person who made the thing you like a little better – find out the story behind the item you like.
The thing you choose will be unique in some way; it’s not going to be one of several million items produced in a factory. It comes from a different kind of economy, and a different understanding of ‘value.’
You know that the money you spend is going to support the effort of someone trying to make a living from making. From self-employment in creative work. Local workers making local products.
Props to the many Maker’s Markets and Farmer’s Markets her and elsewhere that serve as venues for makers of all types … all those places where people gather to show and sell what they make – and make the cities they make in a little bit more awesome all the time.
(ok – my mini rant is over … and I hope you consider purchasing gifts for people throughout the year from local artists and artisans. It matters!)
Part of why I have been so quiet here lately is that much has been happening on many other fronts. All good, but the end of the day comes too quickly to get in all that I want to, including posting here.
At any rate – some news!
I will be exhibiting work at the Art Gallery of St. Albert very soon. The show is called At Odds, and features work by me, Susan Seright, and Claire Uhlick. I feel I am in very good company – I really appreciate Susan’s and Claire’s work, and I’m looking forward very much to seeing our work all together in the gallery.
Details as follows:
Hope those of you in the general area can make it!
We may have passed the Spring Equinox already, but in my part of the world, it’s still winter. Full on snowstorms, complete with closed highways and multi-car accidents this past week. Oh. And shovelling. So. Much. Shovelling.
Enough to make me want to burn a hole in my credit card and go someplace tropical.
Still, there are some truly beautiful things in all the seemingly endless white out there … the magpies still believe it’s spring, and have been busy gathering twigs and other suitable bits, and putting together this season’s nests.
Saw one hardy bird, fighting the storm, stick firmly wodged in beak – so determined to make that particular stick a part of its home. Those flashes of black in all that white were magical – like someone has splashed ink onto the sky.
And I saw how busy the bird – or another just like it – continued to be after the storm had settled:
A good example to follow, perhaps … this diligence in the face of adversity.
A lesson in focus and discipline.
Good timing; Spring really will come, one day – and I want to be able to take the odd break and feel the sun on my skin again.
In four (very short!) weeks, NEST will open at Harcourt House Gallery in Edmonton, AB.
The Opening Reception is October 18, 2012, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, at 10215 – 112 Street, 3rd Floor.
I will be giving an artist talk at 7:15 pm.
In an odd way, it doesn’t seem real yet … that the year has gone by so fast, that the work for this exhibition is, for all intents and purposes, complete.
What a journey it has been. And it’s far from over; this body of work is ‘phase I’ of NEST overall … I will continue to make work, and also turn my attention to writing in a more consistent and focused way. I will also be showing some of the work in the Residency exhibition (along with new work) in Toronto In February 2013 (more on that to follow).
But for now … it is good to stop for at least part of a day, and consider what has come to pass in the past very-nearly-12-months.
As to what will happen next … more to follow, when I catch my breath just a little. Lots happening!
In addition to working away (still) in the studio, I’m preparing to teach a one-day workshop at Harcourt House this Fall, with my friend and fellow artist Stacey Cann.
We will be facilitating the creation and placement of some random acts of art … in particular, the building of nests from repurposed materials and the “bombing” of the downtown area with these little gems. The goal is to have some real fun working with these beautiful forms, to create little sculptures that say a bit about how each of us conceive of nests – and ideas of home, safety, comfort, and so on – and then share our creations, in the hope that someone will come across them in the future, and pause … perhaps smile, and enjoy the moment the work has prompted.
I’ve been working really steadily in the studio the last few weeks, and that doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I did take a lovely break this past weekend to attend a good chunk of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival – which was delightful – but even then, I put in several hours in the studio on Thursday and on Friday in advance of going to the evening sessions.
It’s the ‘last push’ in preparations before the October Residency exhibition, in which NEST will see the light of day as an organized body of work (well, at least, it’s my sincere hope it will be an organized and coherent body of work … let’s put it that way!) The exhibition opens on October 18th – and while on one hand, that seems like a relatively long time in the future, in actuality, it’s the blink of an eye. It takes so much time to make work … time and energy and thought, and some of that effort is emotional as well, to be honest, and so really can’t be rushed. Nor would I want to rush any of this work – not the process, nor the result in each piece.
Of course, throughout the process of creating this work – well before I actually began making anything, truth to tell – I had much to reflect on and think about: the ideas that spurred the project were (to me at least) fascinating, and remain so to this day. But that’s just the starting point: the intellectual and conceptual fuel as it were. What the project has become is also a deeply personal journey; a combination of archaeology, discovery, and letting go.
I am quite struck with just how autobiographical the work has become – quite directly so. It is not in any way lost on me that my continued interest in the intersections and conflicts between the competing narratives of memory, history, and the social construction of identity has a direct and enduring relationship to my own personal lived experience. Yes, I know, an obvious thing – but the depth of that understanding and grasping the enduring nature of that questioning is something very new. Identity and its relationship to security – to one’s sense of home and the stories and memories that come out of that first nest – can be slippery things indeed.
Whether we admit it to ourselves and the rest of the world or not, the archetypal nest is a home for the heart. We all seek that emotional space that we understand to be stable – permanent, even – in the face of ‘life’, which is really simply shorthand for continual process and all the change that it embodies. It is an old truism that ‘home’ is not a place per se – that as individuals, we contain it or hold it somehow within mind and memory. So it is at once visceral and primal – and utterly abstract. We have need of the refuge it supplies on every level of survival imaginable … . Because the enormity of that need can seem overwhelming at times, we externalize it: invest objects with emotional and symbolic import, hang on to the grand narratives of childhood and family like fetishes that provide access to that other, first world in which we lived in that nest, felt secure enough to venture forth and (at least) peek over the edge to the world below the tree.
But what if those objects are for the most part gone? What if those childhood narratives have been called into question – unverifiable, or suspect in some way? What if that sense of security (of any sort: emotional, physical …) within the primal nest held no guarantee; what if it was a contingent thing, qualified or tenuous in some way(s)? How do these other possibilities disrupt the understanding of the nest as refuge and haven, home for the heart and body … and what effect does this have on the way we construct our-self-story through the filters of memory, and in relation to the assumptions inherent in the social discourse of race and class and gender?
Much to learn and ponder here … and this writing is a start.
I leave you tonight with and image of some recent work, and a quote from an amazing singer:
“…you must understand that I have never really known how to describe the work as anything other than an inspired reaction to the love of and a desire to communicate an arrow from the heart.” – Lisa Gerrard
… sometimes the work is an arrow to the heart as well.
The dearth of posts here of late has been due in large part to being a bit (ok, a lot) snowed with work … the usual “I need to clone myself” thing I get into on occasion. In this particular instance, it’s been a combination of being out of the studio due to travel, coupled with several projects coming due all at once. It’s been a very busy, hectic spring any which way I look at it … Catalysts coming out and the launch here and trip to Toronto for that, the talk to the Dirt City, Dream City group of artists, the Curiosities exhibition work, dropping work at my Calgary gallery for a group show that opens at the end of June, grant writing, ongoing work for the Residency … and of course there’s always so much more that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ – reading, research, and (gee, who know??) life-related things like spending a bit of time with family and friends, the more prosaic things like laundry and (very) occasional sleep.
I will be throwing my studio doors open for the evening, and inviting people in to see the work so far; I’ll be doing a demonstration of gel-transfer printmaking, and I have some new mixed media assemblage work in the Member’s Show in the main gallery at Harcourt House as well.
I have been working rather furiously on one component of the NEST project that will be launched on the 21st … photos to come, once the work is up and the event on the 21st takes place!
It’s been an exciting time – tiring, but worth every second of lost sleep.