Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shadow Box Exhibition at the TMC

I probably should have posted about this earlier, but I have a piece up in the Textile Museum of Canada's annual Shadow Box exhibition and auction right now. This is my fifth year in a row doing the event. The show us up until the night of the auction on March 3rd, so there is still a bit of time to see the work. All the work is posted online here along with all the info about the show.

Above is a photo of my rather simple piece for the show this year. It is made of garlic skin and it is guessed it (or did you?)...A Breast.

Broken Pencil #50

The latest issue of Broken Pencil is out, and I am featured pretty darn prominently in the article entitled "Despite What You've Heard, Zines Aren't Dead" by talented journalista Liz Worth. The issue is a zine special, in celebration of BP's 50th issue. Big thanks to Liz for including me and making me feel

Also featured within this latest issue are neat little pieces on my pals Becky and Julie Voyce. Check it out!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vladimir Nabokov's Alphabet in Colour

I came across this beautiful book yesterday afternoon in a bookshop near my house. It is an illustrated alphabet by Jean Holabird of Vladamir Nabokov's descriptions of the alphabet, inspired (is that the appropriate word?) by his Synesthesia. The text included in the book is quoted from Nabokov's Speak, Memory. The book is a really interesting meditation on the senses and the ways they can intersect with one another.

The following text was scooped from the Alphabet in Colour page on the Gingko Press website:

"For anyone who has ever wondered how the colors Nabokov heard might manifest themselves visually, Alphabet in Color is a remarkable journey of discovery. Jean Holabird’s interpretation of the colored alphabets of one of the twentieth century’s literary greats is a revelation. Nabokov saw rich colors in letters and sounds and noted the deficiency of color in literature, praising Gogol as the first Russian writer to truly appreciate yellow and violet. This book masterfully brings to life the charming and vibrant synesthetic colored letters that until now existed only in Nabokov’s mind.

In Alphabet in Color Jean Holabird’s grasp of form and space blends perfectly with Nabokov’s idea that a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape. He saw “q” as browner than “k,” while “s” is not the light blue of “c,” but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl. . . . Dull green, combined somehow with violet, is the best I can do for “w.”
In his playful foreword, Brian Boyd, “the prince of Nabokovians,” points out that an important part of “Nabokov’s passion for precision was his passion for color.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three Sisters

I just finished the following assignment for school a day or so ago. The assignment was to propose a work of public artwork, which got me thinking about Scarborough, my old neighbourhood, and it's history, which I only had a vague idea about. The assignment gave me an excuse to delve a little further into said history-- specifically the history of the Iroquois in Scarborough-- as well as to explore a new side of my ongoing interest in food-y art.

Three Sisters

My idea for a work of public art stems from the history-- as well as my own experiences--of the Scarborough neighbourhood I grew up in. My project, entitled Three Sisters, attempts to draw a parallel between urban food insecurity, urban horticulture, and the history of subsistence farming practices of the early Iroquois in Ontario.

While growing up, I was always vaguely aware of the presence of a monument on a hill a few blocks away from the apartment building where I lived. In researching the monument and the history of early native inhabitants of Scarborough, I learned that in 1956, while steam-shovelling in the area preparing for the building of a new suburban subdivision, two Iroquois ossuaries were found near the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Bellamy Road. The ossuaries were estimated to contain the bones of about 472 individuals The burial took place in about 1250 CE and was part of a Feast of the Dead ceremony, which typically took place at the time of village relocation. Shortly after discovering the ossuaries, the area was declared a historic site and a reburial service was performed by Six Nations chiefs. Today, Tabor Hill is now officially designated as a native cemetery ground. Additional research indicates that as early as 1100 CE, early Iroquois inhabited and practiced agriculture in a limited scale in parts of Scarborough and Pickering.

While Tabor Hill is located facing a quiet residential street, the main arteries that surround the cemetery are lined with high-rise apartment buildings that are home to many low-income individuals and families. Recently, I became interested in issues of urban food insecurity for the working poor, for people on social assistance as well as for populations of people in depressed, under-serviced urban neighbourhoods. Hunger and insufficient nutrition are realities for many people in Toronto. This problem is being addressed in part by the growing number of inspiring community gardens and urban horticultural initiatives in inner-city Toronto neighbourhoods such as Alexandria Park and Parkdale. Such initiatives bring to mind Iroquois practices of subsistence farming, within which the “three sisters”-- corn, beans, and squash-- were dietary staples.

My goal is to create a public artwork that combines my artistic interest in the culture of food with the horticultural practices and symbols of the Iroquois and the burgeoning urban horticulture movement. My proposal involves the placement of three bronze sculptures in a parkette on Greenbrae Circuit in Scarborough, across from a cluster of high and mid-rise apartment buildings. The sculptures would each be approximately 6-8’ tall and 15-20’ wide, and would structurally resemble both Iroquois longhouses and hoophouses, which are essentially greenhouses with a flexible material draped and tied over the frame. This “longhouse” shape seems like an appropriate structure to work with, given not only it’s structural relationship to the hoophouse, but also to the highrise apartment, which is meant to accommodate a number of people through the upward and outward stacking of living quarters.

Each of the Three Sisters sculptures would be cast with a different surface treatment, each one alluding to and resembling the “three sisters” of the Iroquois-- corn, beans and squash. Ideally, the sculptures will not only beautify the parkette, but will exist to house and shelter community gardens for the apartment buildings directly across the street.

The purpose of my project, Three Sisters, is two-fold-- the sculptures will not only serve as a monument to the history of aboriginal people in Scarborough, but they also serve as a new kind of monument-- one that quite literally serves and nurtures the community that they are currently situated in.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


I've been finding myself particularly drawn to skeleton imagery lately. These are three pieces of work I've found in my travels lately, online and in person. The first is a skeleton drawing by local artist Shannon Gerard, that I acquired at her awesome studio sale that took place last weekend. The drawing is from the comic she did called Sword of My Mouth, which came out last year on Jim Munroe's No Media Kings book label. I'm looking ever-so-forward to framing it and putting it up somewhere. Finally...a piece of work that my boyfriend and I can agree on. Skeletons are unisex, right? We all have them!

The next two pieces are ones I found on Etsy by Portland artist Michael Paulus. These famous cartoon character skeleton drawings-- and the way he goes about doing them-- are pretty priceless. His project statement about them is pretty interesting too...the following text is scooped from his website under the series Character Study:

Animation was the format of choice for children's television in the 1960s, a decade in which children's programming became almost entirely animated. Growing up in that period, I tended to take for granted the distortions and strange bodies of these entities.These Icons are usually grotesquely distorted from the human form from which they derive.

I decided to take a select few of these popular characters and render their skeletal systems as I imagine they might resemble if one truly had eye sockets half the size of its head, or fingerless-hands, or feet comprising 60% of its body mass.

These characters have become conventions that are set, defined, and well-known personas in our culture. Being that they are so commonplace and accepted as existing I thought I would dissect them like science does to all living objects - trying to come to an understanding as to their origins and true physiological make up. Possibly to better understand them and see them in a new light for what they are in the most basic of terms.