Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crime Map Walk

Crime Map Walk Crime Map Walk Crime Map Walk

Here are some photos from my final project for my Performance Art class.  The following text is my short artist statement about the project.

Crime Map Walk
Performance documentation from 10.12.11 
Video, laptop, paper, pins

This performance is inspired by the idea of the artist as traveler, responding to the city they find themselves in as well as walking tours and maps.  Its jumping off point was an online “crime map” of Baltimore, which one can consult to find an up-to-the-minute map and information indicating the locations and types of crimes committed across the city.  Before coming to Baltimore, I found myself browsing such maps as a way of attempting to distinguish between the “good” and “bad” parts of the city.  As any long-time resident of Baltimore knows, it is quite difficult to make such a distinction here, where there is a fairly high crime rate city-wide.

For this performance, I used the Baltimore Crime Map ( to trace a walking path between my house in Charles Village and a main intersection in the Inner Harbour.  I then walked this long path, trying to pass as many sites of recent crimes as possible, taking photo-documentation in the form of over 100 photographs taken every half-block or so along the way.  These photographs were then turned into a stop-motion style video, which serves as the main document of the performance.

This performance plays with the idea of how people respond to crime and fear in an urban environment.  As a defense mechanism, many people avoid areas they feel are “bad” in their day-to-day travels.  This performance reverses this logic, and in doing so, faces certain fears of crime head on.  Also, in performing this walk on a Saturday during the holiday season, I realized that hardly anyone was walking around on the streets I walked during my journey.  This performance also attempts to address the importance of street life and pedestrianism in keeping cities both lively and safe.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

That's All Folks!

That's All Folks!
That's All Folks!
That's All Folks!

Installation with popcorn kernels, uniform and props, completed last week.  I've never put popcorn kernels on a wall I know it's possible!

I think this piece is a distillation of a lot of the feelings I've had and things I've seen while visiting the States.  Most of all, I think it is about how history moves from one period of time to the next, and about the feeling that things are about to change.  It is also about the loss of illusions.

One of my favourite movies of all time is The Last Picture Show, which I couldn't help but think of as I was thinking up this piece, as well as thinking up the performance I did in McKeldin Square a few months ago.  While the film's trailer focuses a little more on the torrid affairs between the residents of the fictitious town, Anarene Texas, the movie is set during a time when the movie theatre was beginning to play less of a role in people's lives because of the home television set.

Also on the topic of the movement from one historical period to the next, I read the following quote in a class recently, written by the American art critic Martha Schwender on the use of appropriation in the work of the artist Sherrie Levine.  It excited me because it questions whether or not we are nearing the end of a long period of overarching irony/cynicism in contemporary art...or perhaps also a period plagued by a sense of cynicism in general?

Appropriation rose out of this desire to have it both ways, to keep what you loved-- or at least knew intimately-- and still make art. It was a great solution.  But I was born in the 1970s, following the burnout of the 60s, and it has run aground in recent years. Not only have artists like (Sherrie) Levine, Jeff Koons and Richard Prince been dragged through the legal system for their cultural borrowing, but the postmodern irony and cynicism on which Appropriation was founded also feels outmoded in the Occupy Age.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Adventures in Canada

First try at making a movie! I'm happy with it. Mr. Lightfoot-- if you're reading this, please don't sue me for copyright. Technically this is student work. I am a big fan of yours, and I'd be really upset if you were mad at me...!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Adventures in Canada

Latest Zine

Latest Zine

Adventures in Canada

Busy, busy, busy these days finishing up my semester at school (and my time in Baltimore City!), so there has been little time to write here.  One of my major projects right now is a body of work inspired by the story of my father leaving Newfoundland and traveling across Canada before finally settling in Toronto in 1973. It's a wild story that can serve as a snapshot of so many things which relate to Canada's recent history-- the migration of Maritimers to large Canadian cities to look for work in the mid-20th century, Toronto as Canada's "boomtown" in the 1970s, and a look at how working people have been affected by the steady decline of industry.

While I've had papers to write about this topic, art projects dealing with this line of research started out as diversions, but have ended up being an important part of the greater project.  An interview with my father was transcribed and turned into a short zine, pictured above.  I dedicated the last week to condensing the interview into fragments and using them in a stop-motion animated video (a still from it is included above as well), complete with a soundtrack featuring a rare Gordon Lightfoot song (!) and a book from the late 1800s.

I will post the video here once it's done.  In the meantime, here is the link to the project blog.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

House Proud

Paper City Paper City

Here are a few photos that were taken a few weeks ago at Canzine 2011 of the City of Craft table,  (or "City of Craft Village"), with houses by Ian Phillips, Jen Anisef, Kid Icarus, Cecelia Hayes, Roz Faustino, Reverend Aitor, Michelle Renaud, Becky Johnson, and myself. House number #2432 is my contribution-- a little ink drawing of my house in Baltimore.  I've been looking forward to checking out pictures of this awesome little collaborative project co-ordinated by City of Craft wonder lady, Becky Johnson. There has been a ton of buzz about City of Craft as of late-- I am so sad to miss it for the first time this year since it sure to check it out over the weekend of December 10-11, 2011. 

Photos: Glowing Doll

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Don't Flinch, Jack.

Don't Flinch, Jack. Don't Flinch, Jack.
Photos from an assignment from school that incorporates performance and hand-drawn posters of quotes about labour taken from Newfoundland "Jack Stories," Barbara Erhenreich's book, Nickled and Dimed, and an interview with my father. This performance isn't quite where I want it to be, so I won't post too much about it here. The photos turned out good, though!

Top Photo: Kristine Woods

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Wall at the Back of the Theater

The Brick Wall at the Back of the Theatre

A couple of Sundays ago, I decided to do a performance for Occupy Baltimore-- Baltimore's version of the Wall Street Protests-- which started a few weeks ago in a public square in the Inner Harbour area of town. The performance was inspired by a project I was assigned in a performance class (I still have yet to do the actual assignment in class on Monday...this wasn't the school assignment) where we were asked to develop a character or alter ego.  For this piece in McKeldin Square, I became an out-of-work "popcorn lady" who lost her job because the theatre she worked at (In the present? In the 40s or 50s?  I'm not quite sure...) closed down.  The performance consisted of me kneeling on the ground for two hours, spelling out a long quote in popcorn kernels.  The quote belongs to the annoying, but highly quotable (Baltimore-born) Frank Zappa, who once said: "The Illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion.  At the point where the illusion becomes to expensive to maintain, they will take down the scenery...pull back the curtains...and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre."  The quote was slightly abridged from it's original form for the performance, for the sake of my knees and back.

The Brick Wall at the Back of the Theatre

This performance was obviously inspired by my time in Baltimore-- and the United States.  It is a crazy time to be here-- there have been protests across the country, and Baltimore itself has been a troubled city since the 1960s.  The downtown core of Baltimore is beautiful, but largely deserted.  There is poverty and blight everywhere.  While the arts community and a select few are fighting hard for the city to have a chance at a renaissance, it will be a long, hard road.  What are the odds that it will happen?  This is a city made for a million people, and the population has steadily declined since the 1970s to 620,000 people.  Poor Baltimore-- in so many ways, the city and its people have been really inspiring, but I leave for good in December.  I know it will haunt me, and I will wonder and worry about it as if it was a wayward friend.

The Brick Wall at the Back of the Theatre

On a lighter note, executing this piece was rough.  I did a somewhat similar performance with popcorn kernels last spring that took just under half as long, and that was hard enough.  Because the piece is at least partially about labour, the endurance aspect of the piece was fitting.  About a third of the way through the quote, this sweet little man offered me a bit of help.  He did one letter-- an F-- before I shoo-ed him away because he was slowing me down.  The poor guy was very disappointed, and reluctantly left me to my work after a while.  I really hit my stride after he left.

The Brick Wall at the Back of the Theatre

This was the first piece of "work" that has materialized since my arrival here, and I'm glad to have it more or less behind me. There is definitely more to come soon.  I'll end this post with the lyrics of a Randy Newman song I only just heard for the first time yesterday.  While my photos don't really illustrate the Baltimore this song speaks of, the idea of it is definitely simmering close the core of this piece.

Beat up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin' to find the ocean
Lookin' everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain't nowhere to run to
There ain't nothin' here for free

Hooker on the corner
Waitin' for a train
Drunk lyin' on the sidewalk
Sleepin' in the rain

And they hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
'Cause the city's dyin'
And they don't know why

Oh Baltimore
Man it's hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to life, just to live

The Brick Wall at the Back of the Theatre

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Illusion of Freedom...

The Illusion of Freedom...

My little helper at work in McKeldin Square, at Occupy Baltimore yesterday afternoon.  Much more on this later.

Photo: Jacob Ryan Smith via Facebook

Friday, October 07, 2011

NFLD Stories of Leaving

Started a new blog yesterday afternoon for a school project, and it is likely that the project will become an ongoing one. The project will probably apply to very few reading this, but if you can think of anyone who would be interested, please feel free to pass on the blog address/call for submissions.

FYI: Goin' Down the Road is a classic Canadian film about two Maritimers traveling to Toronto look for work in the early 70s. It provided much inspiration for this project.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Das Bande

Das Bande

Among all of the work and relocation-related craziness I was faced with this summer, I somehow managed to begin one zine collaboration project, and end another. This one-- Das Bande-- was a whopping year-and-a-half in the works. I am happy to say that it finally made its way into the world in August...the week that I left town!

  Das Bande

Das Bande was a collaboration between Gena Meldazy and myself. Gena was one of the people interviewed for my Punk Rockers on Creative Survival and the Survival of Creativity zine in 2009. Shortly after finishing that project, Gena asked if I would like to work with her on a zine project that focusses on women involved in punk rock across Canada. The zine ended up featuring several interviews (mostly conducted by Gena) with individuals (most impressively Jade Blade from the legendary Vancouver punk band The Dishrags...whoa!), and the interviews were broken up by drawings I did of girls from in and around Toronto's punk scene. For the cover, we asked the formerly of Toronto/now of Vancouver printmaker and illustrator Megan Speers to draw something, and the result-- a gang of girls camping in rural BC, presumably?-- was totally and utterly amazing. After much humming and hawing over an appropriate name for the zine, we finally settled on Das Bande, and I hand stamped title bands for the small print run of 50 zines in total. The zine also has a fold-out poster of the interior drawings I did for the zine, which I unfortunately lacked the foresight to photograph...darn!

Do you want a copy of this zine?  Gena is overseeing its distribution, and I suspect that they may be all accounted for seeing as the print run was so small.  If you're interested, contact Gena and ask her if and how you can get one.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Robyn Love Interview on TCA

Conducted an interview with knit-ty multi-disciplinary artist Robyn Love last week in honour of the massive public art project that she was commissioned to do for the Cheongju International Craft Biennale. The interview was posted on TCA last it and get inspired!

Image: Water Tower Cozy by Robyn Love, courtesy of her website.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cover Stories

Cover Stories Cover Stories

Before I left to come to Baltimore exactly one month ago, I packed my life with an unbelievable amount of projects-- mostly collaborative.  Some had been in the works for a while, and I felt a real responsibility to have things finally materialize before I left town.  It was also a good way to spend some time with the people I know before I left Toronto for a while.

One such project was "curating" the exhibition Cover Stories for the Toronto Zine Library.  While I was asked by the TZL to curate an exhibition, it was largely a collaboration between myself and three of the members of the TZL Collective-- Lyndall, a talented lady who made a documentary about Who's Emma a few years ago; Chris, the creator of many zines over the last 10 or 15 years, at least one of which is considered a Canadian "classic"; and Patrick, who is one of the founding members of the TZL, and is a great all-round guy and an amazing baker.  After being asked to help create an exhibition, I spent three or four weeks going through the library's massive collection with a fine tooth comb, picking out any zines that I liked especially, or pulling out zines that shared some sort of mutual connection.  While I went into this project not having any curatorial theme in mind whatsoever, one slowly emerged. As an artist and zine-maker, I couldn't help be attracted to interesting and unique design in the zines I came across.  I eventually decided that creating a narrative about zines through their covers might be a neat way to create an exhibition that, while forming physical zine "groups," doesn't claim to draw on any real fixed history of zine-making.

I eventually chose a pile of zines and divided them into 6 loose thematic groups which eventually became "Just Text," "Print Media," Colour," "Little Zines," "Hearts and Other Body Parts," and "In the Mail."  Each collective member of those mentioned above chose two groups at random to write short didactic descriptions about to serve as wall text for the exhibition, interpreting the themes as they saw fit.  I wrote the following summary of the exhibition:

Cover Stories is an exhibition of selections from the public collection of the Toronto Zine Library.  Using thematically-grouped zine covers as a springboard, we thought it would be interesting to highlight zine art and design as a way of telling the greater story of zines– what they are, how they’ve changed over the years, and why they continue to be a valuable and relevant medium.  While some selections from the library have been refashioned as photographs for this exhibition, others appear in their original form to be handled and appreciated as intimate and tactile objects.   In creating this interactive exhibition, we hope that you will spend time with some of the titles on display while learning about zines as both an art form and a method of communication.

We were REALLY down to the wire with finishing work for this exhibition-- we ended up installing the show two days before I left for Baltimore!  I am thrilled with how the exhibition turned out-- it was a really great collaboration, and everyone played a really important part in making it happen.  Lyndall took some really fantastic pictures of the zines that were chosen for the exhibition, and Chris played a huge part in designing and assembling what ended up being a really wonderful exhibition zine/catalogue (pictured above), which will serve as a great document for after the show comes down.

Cover Stories should still be up in the Southern Cross Room of the TRANZAC Club at 292 Brunswick Avenue, in the Annex.  I'm not sure when it's coming down, but if you're interested in checking it out, do so soon!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Feedback Quilt Project

The Feedback Quilt Project
The Feedback Quilt Project
The Feedback Quilt Project
The Feedback Quilt Project The Feedback Quilt Project

I'm going to step back in time a bit to post some documentation of a participatory activity I designed for the TMC that was up in the museum for the month of August. The quilt was part of a larger project I did for the museum, doing qualitative research about visitor engagement and satisfaction. Inspired by some of the ideas in Nina Simon's book, The Participatory Museum, I thought I would make an in-museum project that would serve as something of an interactive guestbook. Here is a short summary I wrote about the quilt that explains it a bit more. I'm happy to report that by the end of my contract on August 19th, the quilt was almost completely done!

The purpose of The Feedback Quilt Project is to create a participatory visitor feedback activity for the museum space. Its goals are to collect and preserve visitor content, to create a more interactive museum environment, to educate visitors about a particular material practice (quilt structure and construction) and to become a “town square,” essentially creating an alternative portrait of our visitorship.

A 3-colour hourglass quilt structure ( was mapped out on an 8’ X 4’ piece of Foamcore with a 1/2", dark-coloured masking tape. The board was mounted to a wall facing the 2nd floor elevators and stairwell. The activity requires that visitors answer at least one of three questions:

1. Describe your ‘Fantasy Museum.” 
2. What keeps you from going to museums? 
3. What do you want out of a museum for textiles? 

Each question has a corresponding coloured “quilt block” sticky note. Using a dry-mounted, colour-coded quilt legend, visitors placed a sticky note with their response in the appropriate position on the quilt template, almost like a large paint by numbers or cross-stitch kit. In doing so they are building a large quilt form together, and the more questions they respond to, the more the “quilt” starts to take shape. The quilt form was chosen as a basis for the activity due to the connections between quilting, community and communication.

Responses to this activity were revealing.  Many people took the opportunity to spill their guts about what they felt museums were and weren't giving them as visitors.  Many focused on the price and hours of operation of museums not being accessible.  A few came up with truly amazing ideas for fantasy museums-- a museum of smells, a snowglobe museum, a "museum of everything in the entire world." I came away from the project at the end of my contract realizing that museum visitors will reveal a lot to you if you make the effort to stray away from the same old prescribed questions, such as "are you a return visitor?" and "how did you hear about our museum?"

My sincerest thanks goes out to the museum for giving me the chance to basically make art and talk to enthusiastic museum-goers and textile fans all summer.  Funnest job ever!

For more documentation of the quilt, check out the TMC's fantastic Facebook Page.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

On Ownership

William Morris Cross Stitch?!?!

My Crossed Stitches project has officially come full circle-- someone else made a William Morris cross stitch kit, and is selling them for $82.00 at the BMA gift shop!!  "Needlepoint designed exclusively for The Baltimore Museum of Art."  Unbelievably annoying...but also totally hilarious and ironic.

Photo Credit: B. Needham

Thursday, September 01, 2011


William Morris Needlepoint
Cross Stitch Pattern

Last week, my project Crossed Stitches was included in the exhibition Heir/looms, curated by Nicole Dawkins for Studio Beluga in Montreal.  The exhibition seems to have gone off without a hitch...congratulations Nicole, and thanks so much for including me!

A really gorgeous and engrossing catalogue accompanied the exhibition, packed with artist interviews, images and multiple exhibition essays.  It was a real honour to be included in it.  The catalogue is a super limited edition, so I thought I'd include my complete catalogue interview and artists statement here for anyone who is interested in me nattering on and on about myself and my family...


How much can we really claim to “own” our ideas?  The repeating, reworking and re-contextualizing of ideas from the past is part of the postmodern condition.  So many ideas have come to fruition over the course of history-- when we make something, what are the odds that it hasn’t been made before?  Anyone who has come across the work of another artist that is uncannily similar to their own knows what it means to have their sense of ownership over an idea thwarted.    Perhaps the solution to this dilemma is to forfeit ownership altogether.

My piece, Crossed Stitches, explores these ideas.  Focussing on a wallpaper design by William Morris-- a designer whose level of influence cannot be overestimated-- I went through the painstaking process of creating an accurate and fully-functional cross-stitch pattern that corresponds to his original design.  This process involved transferring each design onto a large grid and translating each pattern so that it is comprised of squares on a grid.  These large-scale grid drawings were then used to make a cross-stitch pattern on another piece of grid paper, dividing the colours of the pattern into symbols as “real” cross-stitch patterns do.  This final pattern was then included in hand-made cross-stitch kits, so people can make their own William Morris “fabric swatches.”

Crossed Stitches has been paired with an embroidered piece by my mother, created for me in 1989 from a commercial cross-stitch pattern from a book called Patterns From the Past.  Both pieces represent different views on the issues of authorship and authenticity.

How did you come to work with fibre-based materials?
When I think back to the very first pieces of sculptural work I made as a student long ago, I remember using materials that weren't "artists" materials, probably because I wanted to make the work that I was envisioning without having the equipment, or the technical know-how attached to sculptural materials such as clay and plaster. I remember making sculptures out of crumpled up tin foil, ceramic tiles, coffee filters, paper-- materials that are very rooted in the domestic and "every day." Early on, I was inspired by artists like Robert Rauschenberg (still one of my very favourite artists), and I think this work was partially inspired by artists like him who worked with simple, cheap found materials poached from every day life. Then about 6 or 7 years ago I made a leap from attempting to make art that was like pure sculpture to making work involving garments. I would buy used garments and speculate who the owner used to be, and how the garment might be a reflection of who that person was and what they did with their lives. I would sometimes attach used garments to found old photos and create narratives with installations centred around the found garment. While this body of work didn't last long I consider it my first serious body of work, and it definitely set the stones for a long-standing interest in garments, textiles and fibre art which has been a part of my work to varying degrees for quite a while now.

How does the materiality and practices of working with your chosen medium affect the conceptual focus of your work? 
I work in many different media. Generally I will get an idea for work, and will work in whatever medium I have to to get the work done, whether it be a drawing with ink, needlepoint or a sculpture made out of miniature shrimp that is inspired by lace. Sometimes the concept informs the choice of material, and sometimes an experiment with an interesting material will lead to a concept that is linked to what the materials are "doing" or can do. Both material and concept are very important and inextricably linked in my work. The Crossed Stitches work is a good example of this.

How or where did you learn to stitch or sew? 
My grandmother taught me to crochet and my mother taught me needlepoint. I remember being about 8 or 9, spending a ton of time doing both. I didn't keep up with either craft, but picked them both up later in life as part of my art practice.

Is there a tradition of craft/making in your family? 
Definitely. Growing up, I had a great deal of contact with my mother's side of the family, who are Macedonian. The main form of craft that my family engaged in was crochet. My grandmother crocheted these sock-like slippers for my mother, her sisters and all of my cousins (and I) every winter for most of her/our life. She even crocheted me a bra for one of my dolls once...!!!! Recently, my mother must have been having a particularly sentimental day (!) because she showed me a huge bin full of crocheted baby clothed and blankets that my grandmother, other relatives, and her old co-workers made me when I was a baby. My mind was blown and I was very humbled by the incredible skill and patience used in the making of these objects. As my mother pulled miniature sweater after miniature sweater made by many different people, I was amazed to recognize my grandmother's work immediately. The crocheted items she made were simpler, less decorative and more utilitarian than the rest of the baby clothes. My mother showed me a baby blanket my grandmother crocheted that was incredibly beautiful in it's simplicity. My mother said something along the lines of "your grandmother made that when they didn't have any money at all. She would just work and work on that blanket." That is the thing that I appreciate the most about the items crocheted items I've come across made by my grandmother and other family and people around me growing up. Many of these people didn't have much money, but they always found something to give...they were so generous. Usually these things were hand-made-- clothing, food, and things like that.

Interestingly, the side of my family that I don't have a lot of contact with-- the family from Newfoundland-- are even bigger makers than my Macedonian family. The culture of making and crafting in Newfoundland is such a rich one. This is something I'm starting to learn a bit about, and would love to learn about more in the future.

How does this affect your relationship to these materials and practices? 
I don't know how much it directly affects the work that I've done with craft materials. One thing that comes to mind immediately is that members of my family-- my mother for example-- who don't necessarily have a understanding of conceptual or contemporary art can relate to work that I've done that somehow employs the use of craft materials and processes. These materials and processes are accessible and easy to identify, thus opening up lines of communication and dialogue about the work. I really like that this is the case, because non-artists are generally very afraid to talk about art. I want such people to feel like they can take something from art...conceptual art, too. What is the point of making artwork that only other artists will look at?

How is your personal, family or cultural history reflected (or challenged/deconstructed) in your work? 
One thing I can identify in my work that reflects my upbringing is a sense of work and perseverance. I hope this doesn't come across as hokey, because it's totally true. I come from a stubbornly hard-working, blue collar family. Sometimes I feel like if a piece of work isn't hard to construct or doesn't take a million hours to make, it isn't worth doing. I love labour-intensive processes, and maybe subconsciously feel like work that is difficult or laborious will be appreciated more, or is more valid somehow. I should probably get over this!

Is the history of craftmaking or domestic arts important to your practice and to your work? 
The history of craftmaking and domestic arts actually aren't really all that important to my art practice. I am interested in materials and processes in general. Sometimes a process or a material will resonate with me, and it will find its way into my work somehow, either intentionally or unintentionally. I can see myself delving more into craft history in the future, but right now I approach craft mainly from a very visceral connection to making, creating, building and using my hands. I am interested far less in the historical domestic arts as I am in contemporary notions of crafting as an alternative to buying, it's ties to the do-it-yourself ethic, and the psychic rewards of doing slow work. Sometimes crafting feels like the only antidote to aspects of contemporary life that can be overwhelming or frustrating-- omnipresent technology, advertising, consumerism, rude people, crowded subways, etc.

How do you imagine your work will be positioned and passed on by future generations? 
I imagine that some of my work will be mistaken for garbage and thrown out! Seriously! That is why I document the hell out of my work, and write a fair bit about it. I want future generations to know that these strange things I've done-- with food, paper, and fragile materials in particular-- weren't just the product of a crazy person! It all took a fair bit of time and thought, and occasionally people found it interesting...ha, ha!

Monday, August 29, 2011

AVAM, Baltimore

The American Visionary Art Museum
Alfred E. Neuman
Smile Dress
Last Will and Testament

Between the earthquake and the hurricane, I managed to make it out to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore late last week. Lots of amazing work there and lots to think about. Their current exhibition What Makes Us Smile? was full of happy-sad work by a wide range of individuals, from outsider artists to Patch Adams, M.D. I loved the beaded Alfred E. Neuman headboard by Patty Kuzbida. It was also a unique pleasure to see the work of a Toronto friend in a huge museum show in a totally different city-- Rev. Aitor of The Misanthrope Specialty Co. had some of his infamous Unflattering Portraits in the show, and seeing them there was like seeing a familiar (ugly) face in a crowd of strangers.

After seeing the exhibition, Ben said that it was great that a museum like this exists because the things on display were "things he would have wanted to make when (he) was a kid." In saying this, he was referring to art made out of salvage, and a huge model boat made out of toothpicks (!) in particular. In so many words, I think he was implying that the work at the AVAM might encourage people to make things just for the sake of making them or follow a creative impulse that might initially seem odd or "pointless." This is an important thing for artists to keep in mind too-- there is nothing wrong with just making for the sake of making, or doing something "just because you want to." After all, experiments are the mothers of invention.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Here is a sneak preview of an exhibition I'll be taking part in next month in Montreal. Thanks to Nicole Dawkins for including me!

More info on Heir/Looms to come soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Moon Man Newfie


Here are some cell phone photos of me and my souvenir pillow-in-progress made at a workshop this afternoon at the Textile Museum of Canada. The workshop was held today by Andrew Hunter of the collaborative art duo, Dodolab. This pillow is inspired by the province of my forefathers and mothers (Newfoundland!) as well as the Stompin' Tom song, "Moon Man Newfie" and various NFLD culinary oddities. This weekend's workshops are a part of the TMC's newest exhibition, Cold Comfort: New and Improved Souvenirs of Canada. It's amazing-- go check it out!

Photos: Andrew Hunter

Friday, June 24, 2011

Catching Up


I am very behind on this blog! My only excuse is that I'm one month into a summer job that requires me to spend a very long time on a computer-- something far from the retail reality I was so used to one short month ago. By the time I get home, I would rather not type another word! There is plenty to catch up on, but for this post I'll just concentrate on the two (wonderful and super noteworthy) shows I have work in right now.

The above photograph is of my corner of a little world known as The Wunderkabinet-- a roving series of exhibitions in Kreuzberg, Berlin curated by the talented Leah Buckareff. This is my third Wunderkabinet exhibition, and in some ways the premise of this third exhibition-- The Reading Raum-- is the one that is closest to my heart. Housed in a wacky architectural storage unit called The Turtle in the Etsy Labs Berlin space, The Reading Raum is an archive and exhibition of mini-books, zines and printed matter. Much like a zine library, people are encouraged to peruse the books and linger, and they even have the option to purchase many of the items on display. I loaned a heap of work to the show and if the photographs of the opening on Leah's Flickr page are any indication, it looks like the show was very well recieved when it opened. Congrats Leah, and thanks again for including me!

Paradise Lost

Secondly, I am one of the 49 artists included in Paradise Lost-- the very last exhibition at Fly Gallery, a long-running and much loved window gallery on Queen Street West. The following is text from the press release put out by Tanya Read and Scott Carruthers, proprietors of Fly Gallery:

After 12 years Fly Gallery is packing it in. Our mandate has been to keep art accessible and contribute to the cultural life of the street. Since 1999 the development of this stretch of Queen St. has changed the dynamic of that culture. One may call this development ‘Gentrification’. Often associated with negative connotations it is a reality of many urban neighbourhoods. Whether the development is a good or bad thing, it is a factor in why Fly is leaving Queen West. Is this Paradise Lost or a new beginning? The spirit of Fly will live on and we have invited artists to say goodbye with us.

I had my very first art show at Fly Gallery in 2005, and I ended up showing there twice more in 2006 and 2008. Fly was instrumental in bringing art to the Queen Street strip and providing people with spontaneous and often playful encounters with art in their daily lives. It was immeasurably valuable as a truly accessible art gallery-- a rare breed in this day and age. I'll miss it dearly! Happy trails, Tanya and Scott!

Proverb For Queen Street West

This is a photo of my piece for Paradise Lost while it was in progress. "The poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends" is a proverb from the Old Testament. I chose it because I felt like it succinctly summed up my view of what has been happening on Queen West for the past five or six years. While the tone of this proverb may seem a little snippy, I admire Tanya and Scott for taking the opportunity to move forward and start anew.

Paradise Lost is up at Fly Gallery-- 1172 Queen Street West-- until August 13, 2011.

Photo Credit (Top): Ina Gollmann

Wednesday, June 08, 2011



So far so good! I still have lots to do, though. It has to be done by June 18th.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sandwich Board

Sandwich Board
Sandwich Board
The beginnings of what will be a pretty intense cross-stitch project. This piece will (hopefully, if it turns out well!) end up in Toronto window gallery institution Fly Gallery's very last show, Paradise Lost, which will run from late June until the end of July.

More on this project as it starts to take shape.

Friday, May 13, 2011

School Jerks EP on Art 4 Punks Blog

Day Two:  The Saga Continues

Not much to report these days-- is it possible that I'm experiencing the dog days of summer in May? I've felt oddly bored and paralyzed lately, as though I've been hit by some form of post-school narcosis.

A few weeks ago the School Jerks EP got a nice mention on a blog that I follow out of LA called Art 4 Punks. Thanks for the props, Paul! Take a look at A4P for a peek at some of the more interesting examples of punk and hardcore record art from this side of 1981.

Here is a funny peek at the process of making the record covers. Ben spent two nights hand stamping 1000 covers in our living room as I (for the most part) watched on in amusement/amazement. While part of me isn't as happy with the overall result of this record over the previous one, it's still pretty awesome and there's been some nice feedback about it.


Monday, May 02, 2011

B'More or Bust

It's official. I'm relocating to Baltimore for 4 months in September to attend MICA. Land of crab cakes and Hairspray. Holy crap!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Towers

Radio Tower
Loveless Town
These are three pin designs I drew two days ago for my pals, the Modern Superstitions. Text will be added which will also be hand-drawn, and it looks like we'll only be using the bottom two after all-- the water tower and the hydro tower.

Modern Superstitions are the easiest band to do artwork for-- it is always a huge pleasure. The main reason for this is that both their lyrics and music are so damn evocative. The idea of bell towers and clock towers immediately came to mind when I first listened to the songs on their last EP. We ended up going with a stained glass motif as a slight variation on those ideas, but I was able to work with towers in this pin project, which I'm grateful for. These towers are definitely less majestic and more mundane and "local" feeling, which matches some of their songs and lyrics this time around-- Hometown, Loveless Town, etc.

The hydro tower is an ode to my own hometown, Scarborough (incidentally, also a loveless town!). The water tower is an icon associated with more rural hometowns. The idea is that the hydro tower pin be silver, and the water tower be a bronzy gold...we'll see if everything works out as planned!