Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Pulling Strings Reference Library

There's lots of amazing stuff brewing with my textile-based collective, Pulling Strings.  A few weeks ago our newest project, The Pulling Strings Reference Library, had its soft launch at Needlework.  A growing collection of eclectic textile-related publications have been installed in Needlework's window along with a cozy chair for browsing and lounging.  After April, the library will become an ongoing fixture at Needlework as a semi-permanent community reference of textile art, theory and how-to books, zines and catalogues both old and new, weird and wonderful.

There are other great library goings-on happening until the end of April as well.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, our blog will feature reviews of books from the personal collections of some of our textile heroes.  This series kicked off last week with reviews by Robyn Love, Kate Jackson and Grant Heaps with many more lined up (previews of a few of the books that will be featured above!). At the end of April, we'll have a reading event at Needlework where an impressive group of textile enthusiasts will read aloud from their fave textile books.  More details to come soon!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Market Value

Last weekend, I was one of nine artists that participated in Market Value, an initiative of the Hamilton Arts Council and the Worker's Arts and Heritage Centre.  For Market Value, artists from a variety of disciplines were invited to make work in public at the (beautiful and light-drenched) Hamilton Farmer's Market for a seven hour shift.  There were paid for their day of "work" at the market with the help of the OAC funding the project received.  The project was part exhibition and part advocacy initiative that puts the hours of work that artists spend producing art in plain view.  My work was performed/made over one day, and five other projects took place over the course of the previous week-- participating artists included Jim Riley, Trevor Copp, (F)NOR (Andrea Carvalho, Svava Juliusson, Donna Akrey and Margaret Flood), Mary Dyja and Laura Bromwich.

I had a lofty idea for a new work to produce for this exhibition that didn't end up happening.  The reason for this is complicated, and though I am very tempted to unpack the saga here, I will not.  Luckily it was not that difficult to change my concept at the 11th hour because making work with food has been my bread and butter (*GONG*) for a number of years now, and dipping back into a older body of food-related work (though not ideal) would be a good fit for a day of performative art-making in the Farmer's Market.

Last summer, I continued my The End body of work by making an installation for Gallery 1313's window box gallery.  This installation, called The End (Seven Samurai) was irreparably damaged by the heat and sun over the course of the exhibition, so I've been meaning to make a framable 2D version of the installation for several months now.  I decided that Market Value was as good a time as any to take this on.  For my market day, I screened Seven Samurai on my laptop while I recreated the end title of the film in dried foods associated with Japanese cuisine-- black sesame seeds and white rice-- a portion of which was purchased at the market.  For those who don't know, Kurosawa's film is about a team of samurai protecting bandits from pillaging the annual harvest of a very poor village in feudal Japan.  I thought that the film and using food as material were both interesting ways to address the issue of food (in)security across history.

 Food for art-making and food for eating over the course of my shift.

 The product of five hours of work...!?!?

Photo: Jen Anisef!

It is always a pleasure to show my work, and I was happy to have the chance to exhibit my own work (after a flurry of curatorial activities and projects since moving to Hamilton) in a very public space, and for the first time in my new city.  Feedback is always so interesting and varied and it's a pleasure to learn how open people are to engaging with art and artists-- especially those who do unusual things with unusual materials.

For me, the most challenging part of participating in this exhibition was casting a critical eye on my own practice, and coming to realize that in having someone else advocate for my work, I maybe haven't been the best advocate for my own work.  I was recently a visiting speaker about my other life as an independent curator in a class at Sheridan College, where I emphasized to a cohort of students-- most of which were about 10 years younger than me-- the importance of being re-numerated for their work.  I remarked that in not being mindful of being compensated reasonably (or at all) for their work, they were not only jeopardizing their own economic health, but they would ultimately have a detrimental effect the livelihoods of their fellow artists.  Pretty ironic, as I haven't practiced as I preached for the vast majority of my art career.  The lesson to be learned here for all artists is to continually step away from your art and look at the big picture of a life in art that involves goals, negotiation, economic exchange and critical thinking, both for one's own sake as well as for the sake of other working artists.

I'd like to thank Stephanie Vegh of the Hamilton Arts Council, Andrew Lochhead of the WAHC and my volunteer Ariel Bader-Shamai for all their help on my market day, and through the entire process of developing and carrying out Market Value.  I'll wrap this post with this cartoon that speaks volumes!

For more on Market Value, look here and here and here.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Justseeds Artists' Cooperative in Hamilton this Friday!

If you're in Hamilton (and even if you're not!), don't miss the multi-venue event Celebrate Women's History with Justseeds Artists' Cooperative which kicks off on Friday, March 14th at the James Street North Art Crawl!  Thanks so much to the local exhibition partners for helping make this happen-- Homegrown Hamilton, Hammer City Records, Centre3 for Print and Media Art and SACHA.

RSVP on the event Facebook page here:
RSVP to Celebrate Women's Herstory at Hammer City Records on Facebook here:

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Celebrate Women's History In Hamilton with Justseeds Artists' Cooperative

It's amazing to see so many events cropping up around Hamilton for International Women's Day on the 8th.  I'm adding one to the pile that I've had up my sleeve since the beginning of this year-- a two-venue art event showcasing the work of the Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, a collective of print artists from across the US, Canada and Mexico.  I was introduced to Justseeds' work at Printed Matter's NY Art Book Fair at PS1 in 2012 and fell in love with their punchy, passionate prints that tackled topics such as climate change, feminist heroes and war resisters.  It's my pleasure to have a hand in bringing their work-- with the help of Justseeds member Mary Tremonte, a former Pittsburgher (is that a word?) now based in Toronto-- to the Hammer.  Read on for more info about Justseeds, the exhibitions, our partners and the opening party at art crawl on March 14th!


Celebrate Women's History In Hamilton with Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative
In honour of International Women's Day 2014-- 20+ Artists!  Two Venues!  Print Media!  Gender Justice!  Rock’n’Roll!

Exhibition #1:
This is an Emergency!
At Homegrown Hamilton, 7 King William Street, Hamilton, Ontario
March 14th - April 10th, 2014; opens at Art Crawl, March 14th, 2014, 7pm. Presented in association with SACHA

This is an Emergency! is an exhibition of a print portfolio organized by Meredith Stern of Justseeds in 2012 which focuses on reproductive rights and gender justice. In response to all the bullying, legislative measures, and the horrifying statements filling the media against women, 2-LGBTQ, and non-gender conforming folks, the project brings together a collection of voices responding through visual art and interviews. This project brings together the voices of people most affected by these issues-- women, queer identified, and transgendered artists.

Exhibition #2:
Celebrate Women’s Herstory: A collaborative printstallation created by Justseeds Co-op members Mary Tremonte and Jesse Purcell, including selected posters from the Celebrate People’s History poster series. Posters and prints will be available for sale.
At Hammer City Records, 228 James Street North, Bsmt @ Rear; opens at Art Crawl, March 14th, 2014, 7 pm

Other Events:
Art Crawl Opening Night Party! DJs Mary Mack, Donna Lovejoy, Carla Coma and Tara Strange spin a lady-hero playlist at Hammer City Records, 228 James Street North, Bsmt @ Rear, March 14th, 2014, 7-11pm

Artists’ Talk with Justseeds’ Mary Tremonte and Jesse Purcell at Centre3 for Print and Media Arts, Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 @ 5pm, PWYC


Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative is a decentralized network of 24 artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. With members working from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Justseeds operates both as a unified collaboration of similarly minded printmakers and as a loose collection of creative individuals with unique viewpoints and working methods. We believe in the transformative power of personal expression in concert with collective action. To this end, we produce collective portfolios, contribute graphics to grassroots struggles for justice, work collaboratively both in- and outside the co-op, build large sculptural installations in galleries, and wheatpaste on the streets – all while offering each other daily support as allies and friends.

Mary (Mack) Tremonte is an artist-educator-DJ currently living in Toronto, ON where she is a Masters student at OCADU. Her vibrant silkscreen prints explore queer animal sexualities, amplified possibilities, and signifiers. As a DJ and party organizer she strives to create temporary safe spaces for expression, as well as to raise funds and awareness for grassroots causes. She is consumed with printmaking, totally teens, collaboration, communication and the politics of social space, particularly the danceparty.

Jesse Purcell is a multi-disciplinary artist and professional printmaker. After many years of working in MontrĂ©al’s vibrant screen-printing mileu, he has recently relocated to Toronto. The roots and current drive of his practice derive from the global DIY underground poster and art scene, which confronts issues of social and environmental injustice. He has a 20-year history of working in and with socially engaged artists’ collectives with the goal of using art as a tool of social transformation. His current work experiments with scale and pushing the parameters of the serigraphic medium.

Celebrate Women's History in Hamilton with Justseeds Cooperative is organized by Hamilton-based artist and curator Tara Bursey in collaboration with Homegrown Hamilton, Hammer City Records, Centre3 for Print and Media Art and SACHA.

Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, 2012