I’m Feeling Lucky

Photo by Alison Cooley

Reunion installation, photo by Alison Cooley

A project I began more more than 14 years ago has been included in an unusual group show in the town of Elora, Ontario. Just over a 100 km from Toronto, with fewer than 4,000 residents, Elora is not exactly the place one expects to discover cutting-edge curatorial projects.

The exhibition I’m Feeling Lucky came about after curators Alison Cooley and Natasha Chaykowski were awarded the Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators. Funded by a local community fund the prize offers entrants the opportunity to create an innovative exhibition at the Elora Centre for the Arts, a beautifully restored three-story limestone school building.

Alison and Natasha wanted to examine history and collective memory, at the same time as questioning curatorial authority by curating an exhibition using Google search. They contacted me via email in May and after further discussion I agreed to participate. It’s been a wonderful opportunity and my only regret is that I won’t be able to see the actual exhibition.

When Alison and Natasha first contacted me they mentioned they’d like to include my Reunion project in the show. The extraordinary coincidence is that my mother, whose face is featured in this drawing series, used to live in Elora. I stayed with her over the course of a summer, when I was going at art school in the mid-70s. I rented a small studio and worked part-time at a couple of local restaurants. My sister went to school in the building that currently houses the Elora Centre for the Arts. So the project has what Alison described as a “coincidental perfection.”

Returning to a consideration of this project these many years later has been a valuable experience. I’m pleased to find it still resonates for me (and others)—I’m feeling lucky.

At home

I finally installed a few of the text drawings from my 2012 Memory Festival installation at home.

There’s something quite different about showing something publicly within an exhibition, compared to living with it at home. I tend to feel kindlier and and less critical of the work I live with.

As the drawings become more and more familiar they are less fraught with anxiety. I’m not about to change or revise them, so my sense of responsibility diminishes and they are left to be exactly what they are. They function best in the here and now of everyday life.

All that was left (at home)

Recovery

After a long absence from my studio I struggle to find a way back into my practice by handling the work I produced before the hiatus. I organize and rearrange my drawings as a way to remind myself what I do and how I do it.

Selecting and installing these three drawings within a faculty show at Emily Carr University, has helped guide me back to the process of making.

ECU Faculty Show

 

 

Our fearful selves

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has inspired countless plays, films, tv programs, plays, video games, cartoons, comics, toys and related works. This monster is one of the most persistent horror icons within popular culture.

At the very moment that Victor Frankenstein succeeds in bringing his creation to life he turns away from it in horror. All else that follows in the story can be seen as a result of this abandonment.

Perhaps our fascination with Frankenstein’s monster represents a willingness to take responsibility for this wretched creature, or at least recognize and engage with it. Our humanity is tested when we encounter monsters––they remind us of our responsibility towards our most fearful selves.

The darkness revisited

A number of years ago I drew a series of darkened faces in relation to a death within my family.

A new series uses a similar working method to respond to images of Boris Karloff as the monster, within James Whale’s Frankenstein films from the 1930s. Karloff’s iconic representation has come to stand for the very idea of a monster.

creature

Dark creature (series), brush and Ink on rice paper, approx. 8 x 6″