I feel a certain pressure to tie up the loose ends of projects from earlier in the year, and that has taken time away from emerging work, is that ok? Should I leave things in progress? How do you even know when a project is really finished? I really feel I still have no idea bout this.
Avoiding burn out over summer? Suggestions of how to do this? Last summer I really dropped almost all of my making, because I found the spring so intense, but I don’t want that to happen this summer. How can I set myself a reasonable goal while trying to find some time to re-charge?
Which areas of inquiry would be best to continue to follow to push my practice for next year?
I feel like this year been having trouble really prioritizing within my studio practice. I have been feeling conflicted about how much time I should be making and how much researching, and applying to opportunities within the timeline of the course. Any advice on this would be appreciated.
I am working to finish this embossed map of the night sky, but suddenly had to urge to change into a circular accordion book. The embossing has take so much time I am hesitant to cut all the bit up through.
I am in the middle of developing a browser based digital collage project which will involve clicking through multiple layers of images of the Caterina Crater. Some made by me and some found. Right now I am just collecting all the versions (Drawing, text, video, code) and would like to make some animated elements, maybe audio.
These projects exist as a browser based digital collage, and as a email art project to promote a democratic art environment for all participants, free of instructional hierarchies, creating an art environment for everyone regardless of educational background or geographical location.
Browser based works present the unique opportunity to connect with a non-localized audience, who may participate in near complete anonymity, solitude, or participate actively as an individual or as a group if they so choose. Using born digital projects allowed me to connect directly to audiences virtually without the mediation of physical institutions and the ability to move away from traditional art centers, allowing audiences outside of typical artistic city centres the same experience as those within those geographical areas.
In this project I hoped to connect the digital and the physical in some way as a means of recognizing our digital presence as real. I approached this in Asterism Exchange by including the exchange portion, and using hand drawn images as a reminder of the individual within the internet. For Hesperus is Phosphorus, I saw the email project as a means to interrupt one’s day, and traditional use for email, with a reminder about time and our bodies and heavenly bodies’ connection cycles through an image.
These ideas of connectivity, immateriality linked to materiality and democracy mediated through internet based projects mark a shift for me to begin to move away from traditional and commercial artistic institutions’ goals. The born digital projects open up endless, rhizomatic opportunities for new connections to audiences and further interpretations of the work from new demographics.
Site Chosen: Live Component
During the live participation component, any visitors to the ShiftWork Studio in Fredericton NB during Flourish Festival were invited to submit to the growing archive by drawing a star, asterism or constellation on a Postcard. This postcard was catalogued by me, the Acting Asterism Archivist, and they were given another star in return for their contribution.
Attached is photo documentation of the installation. The archive could be browsed via a laptop, activating the projection on the physical archive. The costuming for my assistant and I reflected stereotypes of traditional archivist including glasses, white gloves, name tags.
I thought the event was successful as multiple contributions were made from participants of all ages and demographics. After the event there were new hits to the website, and about 70 stars were submitted for the archive. I am in the process of editing and scheduling them now.
The process for creating these new works followed by usual conventions for working at the beginning, which involved research, sketches and setting goals, but after the first few weeks and realizing my goals were different than usual (more focus on audience than purely content and physical process) the way I worked also shifted. I realized early on that I had to research how I was actually going to use the internet in a meaningful way in relation to my work thematically, and started to research other artist working with projects in similar formats. The traditional standards for most physical work is not so ingrained into born digital works, so I felt there were many angles to approach display from which needed to be considered right at the beginning of the work, rather than making the work and considering how it would be displayed.
From there I encountered technical learning curves, which included purchasing and registering domains, hosting, writing some html and injecting custom css. With all this new work I also wanted to strongly consider the accessibility of the site, and read the WCAG 2.0 to ensure my web projects, and future web projects will be as accessible as possible. I wanted the project to still be accessible to someone using a screen reader, with low vision or limited fine motor skills, meaning the site project needed a visual description (available under the visual description tab), scale for mobile, and be able to be used with keyboard shortcuts. All of these considerations have been included and will be included in all future projects as well.
Among the golden ideals that the internet can be a space for the democratization of art, there are still major issues related to the privatization of the internet, ethical issues surrounding the major corporation which operate the most used areas of the internet (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) and the commodification of the internet is signalling a move away from it being a democratic space. Economic choices related to the adoption of current content management systems ad coding languages may also mean all this work will be unable to be conserved with future changes.
I also have major concerns about who can access the internet, either through access to devices which is a financial barrier, but also access to affordable bandwidth which is a major issue in rural areas, as well as how people with disabilities are able to use what I make on the internet.
Finally as with any practice, I have environmental concerns related to the ecological damage servers cause by needing more and more space and the pollution they cause through enormous and unrelenting energy needs.
Audiences and Reception
The audience reception to the online projects has been modest, but I think this initial online work has been really valuable in forcing me to see an online project through on this platform.
Using social media and live events has resulted in the highest audiences, and are audiences which I hope to continue to grow through future projects. Partnering with other institutions in the future to leverage their preexisting online audiences as potential audiences for my work would be the next steps, and I am waiting to hear back (hopefully successfully) from opportunities and keeping aware of others that may crop up through my usual channels.
I was really fortunate to attend the Canadian Museums Association annual conference this week. In my professional life, and as an artist it was a really useful time to see what galleries and museums across Canada have been working on, and really pinpoint were the focus of their work lies. I found the bulk of that effort was focused around: Online/Digital Initiatives, Accessibility and Inclusivity/Decolonization.
It was a really useful time to consider how my institution can work towards goals set in each of these areas, but how I can also tackle them within practice.
I have been trying to be very concussions of how accessible my work is, and only using online when it actually seems right for the project, rather than trying to use either as a gimic, but I think I could do more to include cultural diversity in work work and decolonize my practice. I have added an acknowledgement of the unceded, ancestral lands of the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik Nations of which I work on (Sackville, NB) to my bio/website, but maybe I should also do more research about where the servers are for my online projects and acknowledge my privileged of using those lands as well?
I have also been thinking that maybe I should translate all of my work to french as well. Working in a bilingual province, I should acknowledge the Acadian ancestry of the area.
I also think I should only show my work in fully accessible spaces from now on, to reduce the already high amount of exclusivity in the art world. (More on this when I speak about Tangled Art + Disability below) but this is the institution I should look to for advice and leadership when mounting DIY exhibitions.
This conference really just reminded me that there is SO MUCH work still to be done. Artwork to make, decisions to consider, ideas to promote, and step to take to make a fair and inclusive art world. I may not be able to solve all the problems right now, but working one issue at a time, I could enact some change of what the standard are, and hopefully be a part of their changing.
This trip also afforded me the time to visit other museums and galleries outside of Atlantic Canada and just take in as much art as possible.
At the Art Gallery of Ontario I explored their expansive collection of historical and Canadian art, but was pleasantly surprised to see a small exhibition of Vija Celmins prints. I later realized I had only seen a small part of a larger exhibition opening May 4, but it was still a delight to see the 6 small works in person. Night sky, desert and ocean messotints were on view, each of which I could get lost in the mark making, super rich dark blacks that really only printmaking could achieve. They were so much more rich in person that in online reproductions.
I had a similar feeling when seeing a number of Betty Goodwin drawings from the collection in person. The mark making in them was so rich, and I felt I could feel her making each mark as I saw them. For both Betty and Vija I have read so much about their work online, but seeing them in person switched something for me, it really clicked how special these works were. But while I really enjoyed the experience it was surprising to see most gallery visitors whizzing right by these small exhibitions, only making small comments like “is that supposed to be the night sky or something?” on their way to the bigger exhibitions. It made me a bit disheartened for these subtle works, which take time to get into, to be brushed over by so many, and I wondered if I didn’t know about these artists before hand would I have done the same?
Kara Hamilton: Water in Two Colours was a small exhibition too, but demanded a lot of attention. Using found objects but transforming them significantly the exhibition was comprised of a few sculptures that were familiar but also uncanny. A life size whale tongue, but made of gold, and cut out from a wall to show the architecture of the room, or a crown made of fake gold earrings with women’s names, took the common place to another level. The materials were not hidden in either, and created a second reading beyond the purely symbolic.
The AGO was the only large gallery I had time to attend, but it was nice to see what is going on at the large scale, though I actually think the smaller DIY spaces had the most exciting this going on both as an artist and arts administrator, maybe because they don’t have so much institutional baggage, but also maybe because there are lass funds?
Notes to self on the other great venues visited with excellent exhibitions:
Tangled Art+Disability: Outliers on Tour with works by Chris ‘Bucko’ Binkowski, Christine Negus, Eugene Lefrancois, Michael Keshane and Michel Dumont
Red Head Gallery: What I Tell the Sky, and What the Sky Tells Me, works by Leah Garnett
Open Studio: Superstratum by Morgan Wedderspoon and Monarchs, Mexico and Milkweed by Liz Menard.
InterAccess: Film Path / Camera Path with under-titles by Daniel Young & Christian Giroux
The Power Plant: ᓄᓇᙳᐊᓕᐅᕐᓂᖅ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᙳᐊᓂᒃ by SHUVINAI ASHOONA, Same Dream by OMAR BA and Witnessing by ALICIA HENRY
Textile Museum of Canada: Beads, they’re sewn so tight Artist: Bev Koski, Katie Longboat, Jean Marshall, Olivia Whetung
In the video interview with Karin Mamma Andersson I really appreciated how candidly she spoke about her studio practice, including the success and the difficulties she experiences from her way of working. I have known about her work for a few years, but was really more familiar with her early works, and thought the video about her studio practice really assisted with my understanding of the work, even though almost none of the conversation was directly about that.
The stillness and quiet uneasy feelings that come through in her work have been points of interest for me in the past, but I have not done a lot of research about her practice. Though I don’t identify with much painting, her muted palette, strong sense of collage and use of large areas of textured colour give a printmaking feel to her works.
“It is a quiet, messy, illogical confusing disorder. It is here that dreams and the subconscious come in.” — Karin Mamma Anderson
The fractured picture planes, isolated figures and palette all work to give her work distinctive moods, with feelings of uneasiness through her unsettled figures. I always through there was something similar going on in her work to Jockum Nordström and Marcel Dzama (I didn’t realize her and Jockum were a couple, but that really explains that) who all employ these floating figures, sometimes in spaces, but mostly somehow dissociated form them.
I love the way all these artist use found imagery, and that their archives of collected images become integral to their practice. I have found myself adopting a similar way of working; cataloguing inbetween the making, and allowing those outside influences from photography, deign and museology to meld the aesthetics of my work.
I appreciated how Karin spoke about working figuratively, and addressing how it is hard for the audience to deal with figurative work. It is easier to talk about symbols and objects, and I think I have shied away from fully figurative work lately because of the challenges it faces. I don’t want it all to be deemed as sentimental, but do think there is a lot of value in figurative works. These types of work have the power to shift how we see ourselves beyond photography and present new imagined worlds. Maybe this is a challenge I should consider tackling again?
On the studio practice side of this video, I so appreciated how Karin spoke about her drive to make work.
I have been feeling so conflicted the last few months about whether my voice is one the art world really needs right now. I really identified with Karin when she said she wasn’t sure if she would be accepted because of her secure childhood, and that maybe she had had it to easy. I have been feeling the same, and am trying to identify more purpose in my work, to over come these uncertainties, but I think it will just have to come through time and building some confidence in my own voice. Like she said, you have to have an athlete’s mentality, and continually push yourself to do one more lap when you feel like giving up. I am feeling a bit in the deep end, and trying to find the energy to do that one more lap.
I also agreed with her idea that you have to go around in circles to find yourself, to understand your surroundings. I feel like I have been going around in circles for a while, doing these laps, trying to get better, continually trying to do better, but not yet feeling confident in the end goal. I think like her, I just need to keep trying to put work out, fill the void when its gone, and just continue to grow, do better, do more with more purpose, and not give up half way through this tough lap.
After so much trial and error the site to accompany my series of embroidered cyanotypes is complete thanks to much assistance from my partner Jacob Puffer.
SevenSsisters.space assigns one word to every star making up the Pleiades asterism. Click every star, or just a few, to expose a rhizomatic poetic exploration of the seven sisters and the stories they can tell.
These poems are non linear, mostly from a first person perspective and could be read as a diary from the seven sisters, telling their myths from their own voices.
It is best viewed on a tablet of mobile device, but also works on browser. Ideally it would be included with the embroideries as a QR code or as a wall mounted tablet for the audience to interact with.
This week I also put up a small exhibition at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre Penny Gallery. It will be on view until 12 May.
This exhibition consisted of a series of 7 embroidered cyanotypes, a QR code to the web project and a take away zine. Each zine had a uniquely cyanotyped cover, and included all 7 poems, one for each major star in the Pleiades Asterism.
In my tutorial with Hayley Lock discussed how the work is subtle, though is coming across in the areas I am hoping for, but most importantly she actually asked what is the criticality? And I didn’t really know… lately I don;t feel that I have the strong why behind my work. What is this work critical of, what is it trying to achieve, who will it effect? Going forward I need to tune what I am trying to say and bring it forward in the work. Why do I need to make this work materially, what am I really trying to work out?
For online works: the medium is being tested, and these may still be some missing components. How can I continue to connect the physical with the online?
From our discussion, I also need to to consider that the audience may expect some interaction, or something in return, maybe a two way conversation. This may result in one project with many parts that has a common thread running throughout, but I should keep this idea conscious throughout my working.
Hayley also suggested to accumulate an audience through the live work, and encourage them to spread the work to their peers.
I will read Meeting the Universe Half Way, with a focus on how Barad describes the matter part of human existence, and how we exist as matter. From this reading consider how Agential realism effects our understandings of subjectivity and the being of the universe itself in relation to the work I am making.
Lastly, focus on the criticality of the work, find a clear position and bring it to the work/let the work bring it forward.
Kelly Jazvac Visiting Artist Talk
Last week Kelly Jazvac visited campus to give an artist talk as a part of the visiting artist program. For anyone interested, here is a full recording of the talk.
I didn’t know anything about Kelly’s work before the talk, but I was really glad to hear her speak, especially about her work that was so deeply tied to work with scientists specifically in the world of plastic pollution.
In her talk she described working with scientists to discover a new geological discovery called plastiglomerates. The discovery itself is fascinating (a man made combination of plastic waste and sediment from beach fires) but I was really interested in how she described presenting her findings in galleries as separate from the scientific paper she co-published, and how there is freedom to make larger statements in galleries that you just can’t in science without huge backing evidence.
I also really felt during her talk, that she was really trying to address some contemporary issues. Her work seemed to be actively calling attention to areas of plastic pollution we take for granted, but need large corporate action to address – bringing those issues to the forefront of the audiences minds.
I have been trying to narrow down what is the criticality in my work? What am I actually concerned about, and how is that really reflected through the work? Why am I so concerned about preserving/understanding the night sky in all these tactile means?
I think my interest in the cosmos started because it seems like it has been a constant throughout humanity, that the stars we see are relatively the same as the ones the first people saw… However it is not guaranteed that it will always be so.
Linking to growing concerns of air pollution, I think my desire to document comes from an ecological concern that we might not get to see this sky forever. Light and air pollution can at times make it impossible to see the stars. While those stars are still there behind pollution, parts of it are beginning to be claimed for corporate exploitation, which leads to more concern. What happens when the moon starts to get mined?
I am in the very very early stages of a browser based work, which I hope might metaphorically peel back the light pollution to reveal a night sky behind it. Below are some images, but you can see and explore it for yourself here. Open the link and follow the instructions:
This is a very early test, and still in need of a lot of fleshing out. But I plan to try to document the surface of the moon through this process based on NASA’s images, or possibly all 88 constellations? TBD!
What happens if the text becomes something related to these concerns?
What happens when this work is printed? On one long sheet via Dot Matrix Printer?
How does the audience find this?
What does it mean to preserve from an artist’s perspective?
How is it displayed with other ephemera?
Through the making day I was able to find time to meditate on all these questions that are spinning endlessly in my mind as I look forward to making new work. By taking the entire time to just spend drawing, putting pencil to paper and making marks while my mind wandered I started to think about the physical embodiment of the moon, how that comes about through scientific diagrams and myth, and how those may reflect similarities in my body’s physical existence.
I spent the time making the above drawing of the Catherina crater, named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria. I was interested in this crater because of the myths around Catherine, because of how her actions as a martyr have been claimed by booth for Catholicism and Paganism… both without any clear evidence that she ever really existed, but was stoned to death for her beliefs.
Kimberley remarked how the drawing could look like skin, and that really excited me. Thinking about the surface of the moon as a skin, and in relation to the welts Saint Catherine received as a martyr. This connection between the physical impact of a meteor creating Catherina, and the flesh experience in myth of Saint Catherine seemed the perfect poetic pairing. This lead me to think about how relics are used as evidence, and why we look for evidence of anything, religious figures or in astronomy and selenography.
Why do we need this physical evidence, what does it look like, who owns it, who profits from it, how is it displayed, how do we protect it, how do we authenticate it? Are all questions I am thinking about moving forward. I plan to make drawings that investigate these connections between religious relics which ‘prove’ history and meteorites which help us learn about the moon in relations to saint Cathreine of Alexandria.