Kim Stewart

Canadian Métis Artist

home life

This = That

country living, home life, Learning, metis art, my art, teachingKim StewartComment

Beautiful lacy rounds that I created while in residence at the Banff Centre began as the skin of an animal. 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.

mocha in my Helvetica mug, does it get any better than that?

creative motivation, home life, my opinionsKim StewartComment

the lovely Helvetica mug A warm drink on a blustery day to help me stay focused. I have just over a month to go in my master's studies and I am looking forward to completing the work. This last class is on aesthetics in education and I am enjoying the material. I am reading from Landscapes of Aesthetic Education by Richmond and Snowber. Celeste Snowber is the instructor for this class and I find her writing really resonates with me. I just read a poem of hers called Moist Manna where she refers to a child catching snowflakes on his tongue.

In it she asks:

I wonder why as adults, we forget to lie down in the textures of the natural world and behold the beauty of what falls into our arms.

I still feel as though I am moving through life too fast; barely looking up from the load I am carrying. At this moment I want to look up and wonder at everything that is around me, the ants at my feet, the leaves overhead and a warm mug in my hands. At this moment I have everything I need. At this moment, I am okay.

waiting to adopt...

country living, home lifeKim Stewart1 Comment

There is a tiny hole in the fabric of this family. In January my family lost our little dog Bandit to an unnamed illness. I have been trying to adapt as we still have our lovely Laika dog, Sheeba, but there seems to be a small presence missing. Bandit was a positive, happy, and constant companion who was game for absolutely anything, except a bath. He kept me smiling with his 'glass half full' view of the world. Last week the family headed down to the local pet shelter 'just to have a look' and we found this sweet little guy:

At 1.5 years old, Ruger is every bit a clown, intelligent, handsome and agreeable. We started the adoption process and were scheduled to bring our dog Sheeba down for a meet-and-greet but found out that all the shelter dogs were under quarantine due to Kennel Cough. The shelter has no estimated date for release, and we have no idea whether or not Ruger has been infected. So for now, we wait.

smoke, coyotes, and mild weather

country living, home lifeKim Stewart1 Comment

These are seemingly unrelated topics at first. What they have in common is their connection to my life lived in rural BC. This land calls to me with images of loveliness, brilliant green in spring, vibrant colors in summer and the serene monotones of fall and winter. On the surface, deceptively romantic, but really it's a struggle everyday. Routine items, like keeping warm and dry, growing food and running a variety of appliances with electricity become these large choreographed performances. The latest venue played last night as the heat seal from the wood stove crumbled into my hands right after I had filled the firebox for the night. I could not repair it and when the door was closed without the seal the air whipped in the gaps and over the wood filling the stove with bright orange flames. I could tell it wouldn't be long before the stove reached a dangerous temperature. Pulling the fire apart was the only solution I could come up with so I called my son and we pulled each log out, dousing it with water in a metal bucket and hauling it outside. We successfully emptied the firebox of wood while filling the house with smoke. Our eyes and throats burned and I couldn't help but wonder if there had been a better solution. After an hour of airing out the house, I finally headed to bed. It was after 11:00 p.m. and I had some trouble falling asleep. I kept thinking about how great it would be to sell the place and move somewhere...easier. I decided to open my window and put on an extra quilt. The weather was mild and the fresh air felt soothing on my throat. At some point I must have drifted off because the next thing I remember I was waking up to the sounds of a discordant chorus of coyotes with the neighbor dog singing back up. It was 2:20 a.m., only 3 hours remained until the start of the next day. Bring it on! I thought sarcastically before I drifted off again.

home life, my artKim Stewart2 Comments

I have been debating with myself and anyone else who will listen whether or not to invest in a studio space in the city. I currently live 40 kms north of Prince George on an acreage. My studio has been an unfinished space in the basement for the 6 years that we have lived here. I have worked there, complaining only mildly about the water leaks, dog hair, and noise from the TV in the next room, but the matter became urgent after having several studio visits which left the visitors feeling a bit 'flat'. Tiny comments like, "oh." were all I heard after showing them where I create my art. The thing about it is that I want a place where I can go even for a short time, like half an hour, whenever the mood hits or some time opens up. I live a busy life and need to cease whatever time I can for art making. I would use a studio in the basement way more often that one in town, so the basement was the final decision. After securing agreement from my husband that he would be willing to renovate the basement, I approached my brother and asked for his help. He is a genius at many things but his latest thing is home renos and I really wanted to benefit before he changes to something like, flying jet engines, or dog walking. The two men have created a simple, but clean and well lit space with a door that closes and two small windows for natural light. I am very pleased! This space will be used a lot in the next two years as I work on my Master's, prepare for classes, and create art. Many thanks guys! This is the north wall of the studio.

home lifeKim Stewart1 Comment

Here are some of the things that kept me busy this week: 1. Giving meds to my little terrier dog who has slipped a disc in his neck.

2. Driving my daughter and the neighbor girl to art camp.

3. Building wooden frames and stretching rawhide (moose) over them as a drawing surface.

4. Writing colour theory lessons.

5. Making pasta salad and buffalo burgers.

6. Scratching mosquito bites with  my ruler (it happens to be in my hands a lot!)

7. Weeding the garden and eating the fresh strawberries while weeding.

8. Closing my eyes while walking the dogs and letting them lead me down the country road. (it's a cool feeling.)

9. Listening to my 9 year old daughter tell me all about her day.

10. Watching the sun set from my loft bedroom.

Deep scars inspire deep questions.

home life, remember when---Kim Stewart1 Comment

Sitting alone with my tea Saturday morning is something I enjoy. This morning as I sipped with both hands I looked at the moon-shaped scars on my left hand, then an arrow shaped scar on my right thumb. I don't have many scars, but the ones I do have are connected to my encounters with wildlife. As a kid I spent a lot of time trying to enter the world of small rodents. Any free time consisted of walking around the family's 160 acre land with my head pointed toward the microcosm on the ground.  I remember digging into tunnels the width of a golf ball trying to see how small creatures decorated their homes. I meant no harm and reasoned that the owner would instinctively understand so I was surprised one day when I received the injury to my thumb from a set of tiny, sharp teeth. It happened so quickly that I didn't get to see the resident owner with much clarity.  I marched over to my Dad to declare my disappointment but his face clouded with worry and he began to pelt me with questions,  "how big was it?" and "Was it frothing at the mouth?". The whole entire event was confusing and I quickly categorized it as an exception to my rule. Many years later I received the scars on my left hand through much the same kind of denial.  On this day the dog was barking furiously at a brown furry lump half his size so my brother and I went to investigate. The lump had one good eye and as he turned to look at us I could see the terror and desperation in it. I decided to act. I ran to the house, put on several layers of work gloves, had my brother hold the dog back and approached the lump. He was a muskrat and I knew he belonged at the pond behind our house. I reasoned that with my gloved protection I could pick him up and relocate him to the pond before he even knew what had happened. Well, his teeth were larger and sharper that the mouse. He bit through all 3 sets of gloves and deeply into the flesh of my hand.  I tossed him down and he took off with the dog in pursuit. Amazement turned to worry as the wound wouldn't stop bleeding. We were alone that day, so we did what we had seen in some movie somewhere and tied a tourniquet around my bicep. The bleeding stopped quickly after along with the feeling to my arm. It's colour drained and it began to feel cold. Apparently the 'sock' was effective, but a little too tight.  It was removed an hour later by an amused Doctor and two unamused parents. I no longer approach wild things in an attempt to understand them, instead I try to incorporate their natural world into my art. I share the same world with them, yet their ability to integrate with their surroundings in a way that works within the ecosystem is something I still cannot do. I want to know what they know so that I can live and die an integrated part of the world, as they do. I am deeply embarrassed for humans that we have let hedonistic desire pervert our existence in this world. I see what a mess people have made and wonder if it will ever change.

A Tale of a Tail

home life, remember when---Kim Stewart5 Comments

my cat riding my pony This is a tale of a tail that involves a cat and a mischievious little brother. It happened in the 70's when each day brought some new experience to ponder. The bitterly cold winter was fading into memory and the buzz of farmyard bugs was in the air. We were bored. As we sat on an old set of wagon wheels, the scuzzy barn cat jumped up and demanded attention. My brother absently began to pet him following the length of the cat's back right up to the tip of his tale. Scuz began to purr his appreciation and came in close, putting his scent on us. He leaned into the next stroke, his little motor purring hard. As my brother passed over the tip of the tail we heard a sickening 'snap' and there, in my brother's hand was the cat's tail! A look of horror spread over his face and he exclaimed "oh, no!" The cat continued to purr and looked questioningly toward my brother as if to say, "why did you stop?" He didn't seem to notice that his tail was now in my brother's hand! It had been a cold winter, and the tail no longer had any life in it. In the meantime, our boredom turned to panic as we tried to think of a way to explain to our parents why the cat had no tail!

healing, sort of.

home life, my opinions, painKim Stewart1 Comment

I have been sick for 4 weeks. I could feel a virus coming, but I had no idea of the intensity behind it. It hit me on a Monday afternoon with a full force of fever, nausea, sore throat and the like. After a week I lost my voice. A week beyond that I still could not speak. 3 and a half weeks later I am still easily tired and my voice gets raspy with a slight cough each night. I am guessing that I let myself get run down. I tend to over-commit as several friends have reminded me. "You keep way too busy." I've been told. It is tough when you are practically homesteading, yet holding down a full time faculty position in Fine Art and Media which also requires you to be a working artist...oh yeah, and I'm a mom and wife with a great family. I have always had a long 'to do' list and I am seldom bored. I could fill several lifetimes with all the interesting activities I want to explore. I love skiing with the Dad-guy and my kids! Drawing, listening to music, visiting, volunteering, oh why is life so short? Or, at least couldn't I have more stamina. In the meantime, I feel like a 2 year old kid that doesn't want to go for my nap. Sigh, resting has never been my strong point.

Kid's Self Portraits

home life, my opinions, teachingKim Stewart5 Comments

aleccombo ambercombo

I meant to post these during the summer, but other things got in the way. These self-portraits were drawn by my kids during week long art lessons with Mom. It was interesting to see the progression.  I am not sure if my lessons made an improvement to their drawings or not. They progress from left to right with the left one being the drawing they made on their own, without my guidance.

You ate what for lunch?

home life, remember when---Kim Stewart3 Comments

As I eat my chicken sandwich, I reminded of a time when it was my job to make lunches for the family. I'm not talking about yesterday or even last week. I am referring to my 14th year on this earth. My parents owned a ceramic shop where they taught, made and sold all things ceramic. It was my job to make lunches for them and myself each night before work and school. (My brother made his own lunch, maybe that was a blessing). Unprepared, and making sandwiches at the last minute I would often have to spread frozen butter on soft bread, put too much mustard, or forget to cut them in half. Surprizingly, no one complained. One day my mom told me about my poor dad's mishaps at lunch. She began her story by telling me how hard he worked, and how much he looked forward to his lunch break. He opened up his lunch bag and unwrapped his sandwich. One of the corners on the bread was hard because it had not been properly wrapped. He picked up the 'uncut' sandwich and chunks of sandwich spread dropped out the bottom and out the middle where there were holes from my attempts to spread frozen butter. His sandwich was in pieces all over his lap. I blushed as she finished her story. Somehow it had not occured to me that someone would actually be eating this sandwich. Today, I opened the lunch that was lovingly prepared by my 15yr old son. Between the squished bread were huge chunks of chicken, too big for me to bite easily. As I picked up the 'uncut' sandwich, several large chunks of meat fell out onto my desk....and I smiled.

A delight from home

home life, remember when---Kim Stewart4 Comments

Hubert Manning House We recently returned from Grande Prairie where we visited family and the prairie landscape. I forget how much I miss the prairies until I am there again. The wind always blows, and you can see for absolutely miles. There is nowhere else like it. I took my family out to Kleskun Hills which is near the farm where I lived in the mid seventies. The Kleskun park now has a bit of a heritage site with many buildings and bits from history. I was thrilled to visit the Hubert Manning house, built in 1914. Mr. Manning was our neighbor for a time and I have fond memories of him. Inside the house was a book with stories about this eccentric man. They were much the same as my own memories. I'll treat you to a story now.

One time (this is how all good stories start), one time we were at Mr. Manning's house for a visit. I think we might have brought him some water as he had no running water. He invited us to tea and told us stories from his home in Ontario. My brother and I were so fascinated buy his tales of collecting and making maple syrup that Mr. Manning wanted us to taste this golden liquid for ourselves. He had several jars left in his cellar, he said and if we would only wait a moment or two, he would dig them up, literally! His cellar had collapsed a while ago and he had to go into the hole where his stairs once were to dig up whatever food he needed. After a lot of grunting and dirt flying out the hole, Mr. Manning reappeared like a large gopher with a dirt covered jar in hand. The lid was rusty beyond recognition, but inside the glass we could see the golden liquid! My mouth watered in anticipation! After wrestling open the lid, Mr. Manning flew over to his bread box and pulled out a crust of bread. He generously poured the liquid over the crust and divided it in two. As I bit into my piece, an overwhelming taste of mold invaded my mouth. The bread was very moldy. With tears in my eyes I continued to eat the crust and thanked Mr. Manning for the taste. He looked at us, beaming that he could share a delight from his home. He didn't notice my tears as he had very poor eyesight. The moldy bread and tea with ants floating in it has become one of my favourite memories.

Kids leaving home

home lifeKim Stewart1 Comment

My kids are leaving home today. The boy is going to work at our local kid's camp. He'll be in and out of camp for 3 weeks, doing dishes, cleaning toilets, and other daily maintenance. My daughter is gone to spend a week with her Grandparents in Salmon Arm. She'll be heading to the beach, water slides, petting zoo, fruit picking, and other fun stuff. Me? I'm going to work hard to get a little further on my website. I have been designing a website that will feature my art for a month now, but progress has been slow. After all, it is summer. I can't help but be distracted by sunny days at the beach, and relaxing with a good book. Amber at the beach