The holidays, at least in my life, aren’t conducive to maintaining a studio practice. As usual, I’ve spent time drawing with family and friends, which is always a pleasure. Sometimes we collaborate, and other times we just share materials and draw side by side. Here’s a set of leaf drawings I produced alongside my daughter and her boyfriend last week.
Theories of relational autonomy* suggest that autonomy is fundamentally dependent on social relations. Our development as individuals is predicated on our dependence and/or interaction with others. It’s impossible to develop a sense of self outside of social relations.
These drawings will result in an installation that acknowledges the development of a self that is constituted in and through social practices and exchange.
* For an in-depth discussion of this concept see: Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self, edited by Catriona Mackenzie and Natalie Stoljar. New York + Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
I finished the last set of the Family drawings yesterday, which I found both exhilarating and sad. I’ve been working on these drawings for more than 2 years so it’ll seem quite strange not to be working on them any longer.
This project consists of drawings of the faces of 34 members of an extended family. Each person’s face has been drawn 20 times with brush and ink on rice paper, which means I now have an archive of 680 drawings.
As I worked on this series I was reading about relational autonomy. I became intrigued by Annette Baier’s concept of “second persons” described and quoted by Linda Barclay in her essay “Autonomy and the Social Self” (from the book Relational Autonomy edited by Catriona Mackenzie and Natalie Stoljar):
Persons essentially are second persons, who grow up with other persons… the fact that a people collectively have a history, depends on the humbler fact that each person has a childhood in which a cultural heritage is transmitted, ready for adolescent rejection and adult discriminating selection and contribution. Persons come after and before other persons.
These are some of the ideas I mused about while working on the drawings and have informed the format of my current studio installation.
I hope to exhibit this project here in Vancouver next year, so before I pack them up I’ll take some photos and invite a few people over to see them.