Exhibition Notes: How I Got Here
January 5 – 28, 2016
Western GM Drumheller Gallery
80 Veterans Way
It was very exciting to be offered the Drumheller Library Gallery to exhibit book sculptures from my Disbound proposal. Working with books has found a home with me and to be able to exhibit them in a library setting is extra special. The gallery is a beautiful space but the hanging system wouldn’t work to show my wall mounted book sculptures. So rather than forego the opportunity to exhibit, Janet, the library representative, worked with me to come up with alternative work that was compatible with the hanging system.
We all go through life in a progressive way, one step leading to another. This progression is very true for an art practice. One thing always leads to another, we learn and apply and move forward. Looking back on my work from the last 15 years I started to see how I got here, and it occurred to me that perhaps a retrospective was in order.
Having this exhibit in Drumheller is particularly fitting and special because Drumheller is where my grandmother and grandfather, who immigrated separately, met and settled. It’s also where my mom and uncle were born and raised. When my grandfather died of black lung from working in the coal mine in Newcastle, my grandmother moved the family to Calgary.
They say all art is autobiographical and on some level I find the work I’m presenting here to be almost overtly self referential. Starting with Family of Four which is a portrait of my maternal grandmother and then my mom in Being Thirteen. I comment on my exposure to religion in Class of 64, Saves 9, and Pegged. My experiences with being an entrepreneur since the 80’s is reflected in Glass Ceiling and Woman’s Work. And I make comments on the traditional roles of women in What Became and Casting the Net.
Even though this work reflects my life it also speaks to and for others who have shared similar experiences. That is what I believe is important about art; it’s a voice that conveys a message that not only helps people to feel that they are not alone, but one that speaks for those that have no voice. I am drawn to subjective statements and open-ended interpretation which allows others to bring their own experiences to my artwork.
Understanding my past has enabled me to follow my voice to my current work with books. I use books as my canvas because books are knowledge and knowledge empowers. My books are unbound and immersed in hot beeswax. In this state I am able to distort and manipulate the shapes and seal the books shut. This closing off of the books is symbolic of education being denied to girls, and boys too, but mostly girls.
On a whole my work is full of visual puns, double entendre, symbolism and satire. It references the dichotomy of my early life expectations to conform to a traditional woman’s role, when in fact, reality for me, was the need to be self-sufficient and support myself as an entrepreneur and business owner. These contradictions allow me to expose my private self through veiled metaphor creating objects significant beyond function. The underlying message – the essence of my work – speaks to the roles and rights of girls and women.