I've always had a studio space at home, whether it was part of a kitchen table, a spare bedroom or a renovated area in the basement. Now, for the first time I have moved my studio practice to a commercial storefront in downtown Prince George. The level of activity past my window each day is fascinating as I watch a community of shop owners and their patrons go about their activities. This move has given me more confidence and commitment to work each day. I still have my day job, but the studio calls to me more often now than it has in the past.
Reposted from Art4life Wordpress blog:
As part of my ongoing research into cowboy and indian pop culture for my Canada Council Grant, I watched this show with great interest. It had an all Native cast along with some amazingly well trained horses. I was very impressed with the riding - especially the scene where they do the buffalo chase on horseback with each rider using only a blanket and a 'thong' bit made from braided leather or deer hide for tack.
I paid particular attention to the clothing and personal objects. Although it seemed to me that there were a lot of headdresses in each scene, there were also interesting pipes, spears and tomahawks that appeared to be authentic. In one scene where 'Red Wing' enters her teepee to cry there is an amazing backrest partially covered in buffalo hide. According to Wikipedia - each actor wore their own clothes and brought their own belongings, including tepees.
For a time this movie was only rumoured to exist until it surfaced via a private investigator who had been paid for a job with the film. The US National Film Registry has since designated 'Daughter of Dawn' as historically significant and you can now watch the restored film on Netflix.
This is Monday, the horse I have chosen to be my companion through this research.In the second photo we are working in the round pen. I want Monday to accept me as the leader of our 'herd of two' and the round pen helps with that.
I will be posting regular updates on our progress and the art that comes from my work with Monday.
A happy memory that really stands out for me as a teen was a project that my mom and I worked on together. We decided to create a parade costume for my horse. That project expanded into 2 parade costumes and many, many nights of hard work. I loved riding with the costumes and the horse enjoyed it too. However, every year she had a young foal so you can see in these photos that she was often looking off in the distance, trying to get a glimpse of her baby. Now that I have horses again, I think about the possibility of making another costume and, perhaps, my daughter would like to be a part of that too.
It is my nephew's birthday today! He is a gregarious 6 year old guy with playful eyes and a head full of ideas. He has an equally awesome older brother. It would appear that they put as much work into their creativity as they do into wrestling with each other. Good to see that they are not too wrapped up in popular media to see the world around them and represent it in their art. There is something so wholesome about kid art.
Birthday boy, Matthew's drawing of a warbler
Older brother, Cameron's representation of a flower
I spent the morning getting very wet. I am working with an Elk hide to clean and use it for my art practice. I learned how to tan hides the Native way in 2000 and I continue to practice it. There are many people out there who hunt for meat and some of them bring me the hides for my own use. Many of the parts on a wild ungulate are useful; parts that when made into tools, rawhide or leather will last for generations. When these objects finally wear out they will return to the earth to nourish it in a complete circle of life. So if these old practices are good for the earth, why don't we do them anymore? Are we afraid to get our hands dirty? It is definitely easier to just buy the finished product - but I think purchasing it rather than making it prevents us from:
1) appreciating the labour that goes into making an object 2) realizing the consequences of our purchase on the earth 3) treating the object responsibly, ie: repairing it when it is broken rather than just buying another one.
I believe when we are removed from the labour of making an object, we are not aware of its true cost as retail cost is only represented in dollar signs and numbers and not in the process of making. Forgotten are the physical pain, process and sacrifice required for us to 'have' that object. We also don't associate the finished product with its origin. Some things should not be made from the materials that they are, materials and processes that hurt our environment and our people. Finding our way back to living with a smaller footprint will take practice and sacrifice, but it will be well worth it.
Take an object in your house and collage a 'this = that' photo. I guarantee it will be interesting.
Tomorrow is my last day in residency. It seemed to move so quickly and yet I miss my family. I feel that I have experienced each day to the fullest here at the Banff Centre. I attended music performances, artist talks, networked, and created. Below is today's work - devising a way for the pages of my 'testament' to link together. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to this space only as I bring my work home.
I am in a routine of studio work that I hope I can continue when I get home. There are so many more distractions at home - things of importance that I give in to and that seem to whittle away my most productive time. Of course one can whittle away time anywhere with as little as a scrap of fluff and imagination, but if a new habit can be formed then my body will crave the sense of organization and well being that results, not to mention the excitement of creating new work.
I worked more on my lacy rounds, but I also spent time working on this woven blanket. It is a digitally woven blanket from a .jpg file. The image is a combination of my paint strokes in the background and a vector drawing of the buffalo in the foreground. I am now applying beads to specific areas of the piece.
Banff Centre is entirely another world where each day is a savoured experience. For a time I am free to respond to my creative thoughts - to bring them to life. I have so many and although it is only day two of my residency in the Leighton Artist Colony, I am rushing through the work as though it is my last. Here is a peek at my studio and some of today's work:
I have finished drawing a large portion of the pattern in Illustrator. A portion of the pattern was used in a public art call that I just completed today. I want to use it again in a different context. I really love the interesting secondary shapes that can be discerned when you look at portions of the pattern. I think I will print it out and do some colouring! I have some velum that runs nicely through my printer and a brand new set of pencil crayons. Very relaxing - at least as good as Yoga.
I have been reading about tessellations (think art by M.C. Escher). They fascinate me! I found a book in the thrift store on designing tessellations and brought it home for the modest amount of $3. I am also fond of William Morris organic pattern designs. I imagined the meeting of these two and this was the result:
Perfectly suitable for creating a vector illustration! I have drawn this in Adobe Illustrator and am now in the process of finding a use for the variations I created. I will keep you posted.
A number 4 Africana sable brush from 1970's USA. The 'Africana' company once provided high quality glazes, stains and supplies for the booming '70's ceramic industry. My parents had distribution rights for the products in the Grande Prairie (AB) area when they owned their ceramic studio. I used this brush to paint many small ceramic objects - then in the 1980's it took me through art school. In amazing condition, it is still one of my favourite brushes and will come with me to the Banff Centre in February (2015) for a visual art residency. I received word today that I am accepted into the Leighton Artist Colony - Gerin-Lajoie Studio. While at the studio I will focus solely on my art - (yes, someone else will do the cooking and the cleaning for me!) As part of my planned Education Leave from work, I have until the end of April to concentrate on my art practice. I feel a deep gratitude for this opportunity and plan to make the most of it. I shall keep you updated.
It was -19c this morning as I was feeding the horses. A bit chilly for me, but Cassie doesn't seem to mind. She has a full coat of winter fur. I wake up, drag myself out there and promptly come to attention as the cold starts to sting my cheeks. I may be miserable when I start, but by the time I have finished the chore I am smiling.
Here is a photo of my artwork hanging in the UNBC Rotunda Gallery. It's a digitally woven blanket with beadwork applied on the letters and some of the shapes and forms. I used a photo of 'Mrs. Gullion' (Athabasca Archives) and placed her within my own drawings. The text running along side her on the left is from a scan of the original Metis land scrip document issued to George and Margareta Gullion for their son, Franklin Gullion (my great grandfather). It says, "was the woman half-breed, indian or other? ....Halfbreed." I could go on about the derogatory meaning that is now attached to the label 'halfbreed' but in 1900 that was how Metis people were referred to. There is an excellent essay on the subject at this link: http://scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/exhibit_scrip It describes the process by which using land scrip Metis people were stripped of their aboriginal title to a traditional land base.
I think the blanket looks amazing between the wooden lamps. Thank you to the group who put together the show for the Aboriginal Women's Honouring at UNBC.