–waterline–

August 2018

My works are always context specific, and having considered the theme of Art In The Open for 2018, “Future Tense”, my sculptural response was a project titled — waterline—, a social sculpture made through community participation during a residency at this town is small Charlottetown, PEI’s artist run center and performed during Art in the Open’s concluding evening.

My background as an artist who creates site/context specific work, is faced with a loss of such an identity in the context of the “future tense” of Charlottetown. As we race into the anthropocene, our coastal futures certainly begin to look a lot more aqueous.

Projecting ourselves our society and our projects into the “future tense” requires mediation of: 1) defying optimization 2) regression into nostalgia 3) holistic understanding of the site/context. As Kwon presciently wrote, it “might mean finding a terrain between mobilization and specificity – to be out of place with punctuality and precision”.[1] As our futures become more aqueous, and our sites deterritorialized, we may become free from place-bound identities. In the future tense, the site becomes liberation; more fluid and migratory. This seems to allow for the possibility of multiple identities and convergence, between the chance encounters and circumstances. I consider this a proposed project based in relational specificity of the imagined.

“It is through our connections with other people that we find our own centres. Another way of saying that our identities are formed by our relationships. We are the sum total of what others have given us and what we have given others.” – Jen Budney

This description above (written by a fellow Canadian from Saskatoon) describes the work of Lucy+Jorge Orta[2], the direct inspiration for this proposal. These words echo the driving principle of my own work, that interdependency is part of the human, and further, universal condition. Waterline aims to demonstrate this metaphorically through creative play and public performance. I draw from the fact that physical waterlines exist throughout Canada, so also does the concept of ‘keeping your head above water’. Many of us are trying to do just that, though various socio-political and environmental factors threaten to engulf/subsume us, these issues were explored throughout the week alongside the idea that it is collective self-care that could be our salvation. As Homi Bhabha has said, “The globe shrinks for those who own it; for the displaced or disposed, the migrant or refugee, no distance is more awesome than the few feet across borders or frontiers.”[3]

During the residency, and interactions with participants, we promoted the ideas that each individual keeps an eye on, and protects others. One individual’s life depends on the life of the other, and we manifest these concepts through creating collaborative works such as the –waterline– installation/performance, each person donating individually to the group project.

Presented with the support of:

[2] Visit Studio Orta for more information at: http://www.studio-orta.com/en/artwork/18/Nexus-Architecture-Nexus-Type-Operation

[3] Homi K. Bhabha, “Double Visions,” Artforum (January 1992), p.88.

[1] Miwon Kwon, “One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity,” October #80 (Spring 1997), 109 – 110.

 

 

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The Dominion of Then and Now : lunch on the line

This project, situated in Kings County, Nova Scotia, brings people together to experience art as a community. Until very recently, this valley region had shared another communal history – that of the Dominion Atlantic Railway. The DAR tied communities together through a rich and diverse intersection of international trade, cargo transport, personal travel and the mail – it was a social hub of their everyday.

This daily, lived experience in the community of Berwick, reflects its caring, social nature by incorporating two elements: one temporary construction and one repeated, cooperative activity. The construction references scaled architectural elements of railway heritage and full sized characteristics such as a bench and lunch basket, located adjacent to the old rail bed, now the Apple Capital Heritage Walking Trail. This is the venue upon which the social activity will take place.

A daily schedule is organized to provide a free homemade lunch for any person, left in the basket of the sculpture next to the trailhead. Lunches are labeled with ingredients, maker’s name and community affiliation, along with a comment, memory, or personal message. The unassigned lunch allows anyone desiring a lunch, to have one – the anonymous consumption and enjoyment being an important participation in the work.

In all respects, this project is communal. It is created by community and consumed by community. The note cards will provide a written record of DAR memories and the current railway trail, for Berwick residents and visitors to the Uncommon Common Art Project.

Thanks to Town of Berwick Rec Dept, the Knitting Circle, Dan Conlin, the Driftwood Restaurant, Larry’s Pharmacy, North Mountain Coffee, Uncommon Common Artists and many others for their participation.

Fast food Foray

As a citizen artist, I create transitory, playfully gestural works that affect change in the local environment. I developed this project that addresses HRM’s health and wellness by re-imagining and re-presenting found food packaging waste in a symbolic and direct manner for public ‘reconsumption’ and reflection. This project will lead me to initiate political dialogue with the public through an installation performance, which is an exciting new direction.

Fast-food Foray was slowly born as I was completing a community art project at St. Joseph A McKay elementary school, which used recyclable and found materials incorporated into the surface decoration of some trash can covers we produced to improve the schoolyard environment. At the time of that project I was also personally researching the ecology of the forest floor and the fauna that it supported as part of my art practice. Part of my study brought me into the field of mycology – the study of fungi.

Mushrooms play a key role in our environment by breaking down plant and animal material. Unable to produce their own energy to grow, many fungi live in a symbiotic relationship with other organisms. The underground structure of mushrooms consists of a ‘mycelial mat’, connecting the fungi’s fruiting bodies together. My creative process will mimic this important role that mushrooms play in the cycle of natural interconnectedness and mutual dependency in the world, that recontextualized, reflects our cultural relationship to the built environment and our urban society.

24 karat

Late August 2013 I installed this preliminary work at the White Rabbit Open Air residency in Economy, Nova Scotia. My piece is located in an old orchard, with all the tree scars covered as above, in gold leaf. I will be installing this work for the 2014 Uncommon Common Art event in King’s county NS.

In people, scars reveal clues to the history of a life lived. They are not wounds any longer; in fact, they are a testament to endurance – stronger and less likely to be injured in the future. Curiously, a tree contends with a limb removal by growing bark over the edge and sealing itself off from infection or burrowing insects. This process often continues to reveal the inner wood at the center.

The application of 24-karat gold leaf to these interior surfaces aims to initiate dialogue through metaphor with the viewer on the intrinsic qualities of valuation. How should we look at the personal experiences of injury and healing? As a wider discussion, valuation of ecological sustainability and economic systems of our Nova Scotian natural resources. The question at the crux of 24 Karat: what and how should we prioritize our development, both personally and as a society?

Bloomfield Awaits

On the side of the Bloomfield Centre in North end Halifax., there is a 1940’s style school speaker. I had been noticing it for some time as I passed by for breakfast or to take my son to the park. The Bloomfield Centre is a historic location that now acts as a community hub. The ownership of the property has been migrated to The Imagine Bloomfield Society and Housing NS, and is finally at the brink of transition into a more useful and productive center.  They both supported my contribution to the discussion surrounding the future of the Centre in my own fashion, via a small site-specific artwork that incorporates the aforementioned speaker.

I have created a small installation that I feel addresses the sentiments of the Centre awaiting its destiny. I have fashioned (from copper) a decorative party hat, complete with pom-pom and ribbons which, when installed above the speaker, visually transforms that forgotten speaker into a New Year’s Eve style celebratory “noisemaker”- one that has been waiting for some time.

Community Compass

This project which was a funded 4Cs project in the spring of 2012. The 4Cs is committed to the concept that time spent creating together fosters lasting connections between the children and the community members. I collaborated with three other local artists: Heather Wilkinson, Jyelle Vogel (the artists who proposed the project) and William Robinson, together we worked to continue the revitalization of the St. Joseph A McKay  elementary school ground as a vibrant community space culminating in outdoor community art projects. The project was facilitated by the Ecology Action Center and its volunteers, who helped us create unusual characters surrounding trashcans to encourage their use, and also a “Spirit Wheel” powered by children’s exuberance!

Dwell: the colony

This project brought to light the small overlooked niches set into buildings in six small installations for Nocturne 2012 viewers, as they wandered the downtown core. Each one was filled with a glowing light and a translucent cover, the surface of each installation mimicking the texture of the wall surrounding it. Upon closer inspection, the cover is made from beeswax and the glow that emanates has a honeycomb pattern from within.

In the days of ancient civilizations, when the wild wasp was domesticated into the bee, humans and bees developed a close relationship with each other. An external representation of this relationship is the bees’ dwelling, the hive. The modern frame-based beehive, with its underlying principles of rationality and profit making, has existed only for some 150 years. The death of many modern hives has likely occurred due to overpopulation and inattention to the health of the colony population. This project recognizes the tenuous and precarious nature of current bee populations and draws parallels faced by our urban downtown core. We are in the process of seeing many vacant properties and small businesses dying out, replaced by huge box stores in the suburbs, due to inattention to the needs of our downtown businesses and residents. Both colonies and cities are social organisms, needing stable structures and healthy environments to prosper. This project attempts to merge concepts of social and environmental responsibility, employing beehive metaphors within a locative context.