Art Gallery of Burlington
1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
Opening Reception: November 30 2017 17h-19h
On exhibition until January 28 2018
Part of a group exhibition entitled Holding By a Thread, featuring the work of Lorraine Roy, Kelly Bruton, Carole Baillergeon and Line Dufour.
Our personal narratives are pieced together by fragments of our past and that includes the textiles that has accompanied us along the journey. Cloth is imbued with memory and feelings. Embedded in cloth are our stories, our histories, our identities and our cultures. Conscious and unconscious memory is activated by our associations with cloth, stirring our senses and emotions. Cloth arouses thoughts of warmth, comfort, protection and intimacy but also paradoxically, confinement, containment, fragility, and impermanence.
The entire installation is rooted in embodied cognition and speaks of the act of remembering as a mental, emotional and physical matrix. Social identity is explored through the process of creating this body of work, re-creating each likeness, in a way that presents each victim as an icon, to be loved and revered, echoing the manner in which martyrs are elevated in Christian biblical traditions. Making the image as a material presence is a narrative act though they are not fixed and factual accounts. Enmeshed within the subjective embodied experience, is a forensic curiosity formed in large part through the research of each story, weaving together the partially glimpsed, yet profoundly felt.
Re-Collection references the Shroud of Turin, and each shroud depicts the face of a child or young woman killed by a sexual predator in Ontario. The horrified shock and disenchantment I felt 25 years ago when I first learned of the fatal assaults on Kristen French, Leslie Mahaffy and Tammy Homolka has never waned. Since then, I’ve been haunted by the need to pay tribute to these individuals who left this life under such tragic circumstances. At the time of their occurrence I felt immobilized, not knowing how to proceed in expressing this tribute to the victims and their families. As the years went by, it was impossible not to peer into the Pandora’s Box of these recurring traumatic social and cultural behaviors. Oliver Sachs and T.S. Eliot would call this long incubation period necessary to one’s creative process. It is a time when one is consciously and subconsciously, - learning, gathering, reorganizing, reconfiguring and synthesising information, methods, and techniques.
The term ‘shroud’ refers to a textile that” covers or protects an object”, usually a deceased human body. Historically, shrouds were hand woven in a 3/1 herringbone twill or plain weave and with a natural fibre such as cotton, wool, or linen, - an inexpensive easy way to produce cloth. In contrast, I created a series of jacquard woven shrouds. Historically, jacquard woven textiles were available only for the powerful and wealthy to command respect, and denote status. In using these patterns, I transfer these associations to each of the portraits, adding more potency to the homage.
The shrouds have a surreal quality and could be faces glimpsed in a dream. Memory is made visible and the viewer’s memories are stirred and recalled as faces appear before us like apparitions. The clearness of their features are dissolved by the overlaid jacquard pattern, alluding to the veil which I will return to in a moment. In close proximity to the shroud, it appears as a patterned textile. As one moves further away, the face emerges. This disintegration alludes to how memory works - sometimes clear, sometimes vague and blurry. As memory fades, it leaves one with an imperfect recollection of the event or person. This body of work also explores how memory creates dissonance in its incompleteness and its unreliability in apprehending the truth or reality fully, which is further intensified by the limitations of perception.
A veil is a semi-transparent textile through which we can see that which is curtained behind it. It is often used in religious ceremonies to honour a religious object, space or person. It is frequently worn as an article of clothing or accessory, usually by a female and is often intended to cover part of the head and/or face. The veil is an object imbued with the sacred and the profane. The idea of holiness, sanctity, piousness, purity, humility and submissiveness, is often associated with it, but it is also associated with being alluring. A veil can disguise or it can reveal; It can arouse, or denote status. The veil is often referred to metaphorically in various religions, as the curtain that separates us from the departed.
The collection highlights the disorientating effects of impermanence and loss, and brings to light the transformative effects of our subjectivity and numinosity. Feeling our way out of our dark place and our confusion, we are led to enlightenment that expresses itself in compassion, action and creativity. In turn it ignites the impetus to contribute in some way, to positive social transformation. Mary Sarton’s poem captures these thoughts succinctly and it reads:
Help us to be the always hopeful gardeners of the (heart and) spirit
Who knows that without darkness, nothing comes to birth
As without light, nothing flowers.
A special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council ( http://www.arts.on.ca/grants) , Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Suzanne Chabot, Adrien Landry, Lheila Palumbo without which this project would not have been possible. Thank you too, to the Fondazione Lisio in Florence for creating the braille cards.
Toronto Star Article by Robert Cribb may 25 2016