Monday, September 8, 2014

Artist Residency at Star and Snake: Remembering Ana Mendieta

Artist Residency, Star and Snake: Remembering Ana Mendieta.
Center Harbor, New Hampshire, August 24-30 2014.
View the photo collection, here.
















Photo source: Star & Snake


I came to this crazy beautiful place on Monday and I don't have many words to describe it. Enchanting is one. The building itself is an old Catholic church, built at the turn of the century in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, which is now dubbed Star & SnakeNatan Alexander and K Lenore Siner birthed Star & Snake from a combined dream to create an inspirational space for creation, study and celebration. As partners and artists committed to realizing beauty and excellence in all that they do, Natan and K graciously welcomed me to enjoy and co-create Star and Snake with them in a week-long artist residency, which I arrived to with some of the following motives in mind....











Photo source: Star & Snake

Motives

To make body art; process art; earth art and earth works;

To pay tribute to the narrative and poetry of Ana Mendieta. To find ways that re-interpret her work in relation to the site, space and land I find myself on;

To make visible the earth, ephemeral phenomena and conditions;

To match the frequency of my body with the earth element. To approach my work from a place that is slow, present and embodied;

To make works that are impermanent, to communicate in as close a medium to life as possible.

Why Ana Mendieta?

"My art is grounded in the belief of one universal energy which runs through everything: from insect to man, from man to spectre, from spectre to plant, from plant to galaxy. My works are the irrigation veins of this universal fluid. Through them ascend the ancestral sap, the original beliefs, the primordial accumulations, the unconscious thoughts that animate the world" (Mendieta, A Selection of Statements and Notes).

Ana Mendieta's land and body(scapes) have haunted me for years. Rooted in both the landscape and the female body, her work seems to set in motion a kind of transcendent mythos that speaks of new ways to bridge the gap between the human and the non-human world. Her summer forays to the back country of Mexico, equipped with a backpack, shovel and camera, led her to create her best known "Silueta" series (1973-77). In this series, her figure is often traced or drawn on the landscape in a myriad of ways: dug in sand; carved from stone; shaped with flowers, blood or fire. All are potent traces of her presence, transformed by the changing phenomena of her environment: ocean tide, moving sunlight, ignited gunpowder, etc. Her work is significant to me because it challenges the conventional and widely accepted norms of intellectually driven, sensually disconnected artistic processes, so prevalent in today's contemporary, institutionalized art scene. I was inspired to carve some time out of my life for new creation and play, while paying tribute to Mendieta's unique work which has informed and guided my own ephemeral projects over the years.

Mendieta (1948-1985), whose tragic death from a window in Manhattan terminated her career at its pinnacle, was a pioneering figure.  Her feminist ambitions seeded in her small-scale earthworks subverted the monumental gestures of the male-dominated Land Art scene of the 70s. She was critical, intuitive, adventurous. She cross-pollinated cultures, including her Caribbean/North American heritage and solidified her work as an artist and woman searching for sense of place in an uprooted world. Her relationship to land, site-specificity and working beyond the gallery walls forged new openings within the contemporary art world of her time.

Photos/Reflections
The photos I took that week have been archived here.

Day 1
Beach excursion, blue pigment, water movements, passage of time.

This was a day of settling in to acclimatize to the environment. I visited an exquisite local waterfall (Falls of Song in Moultonborough) and spent some time on the shores Lake Winnipesaukee (the largest lake in New Hampshire). The waves coming in to the beach felt marine. They washed away the blue pigment I had inserted into the silhouette of my body carved into the sand. I have always loved Mendieta's blood red version of this piece and wanted to see how the colour blue would change the meaning of the work.

Day 2
Embryonic positions in ash, grass and pebble with body, pigment and water.

Years ago, before I was aware of Mendieta's work, I created a series of body prints made from earth, ash, spices and herbs mixed with oil. I made traces of my body in an embryonic position on paper and then burlap, upon which I would grow grass. Upon reflection of Mendieta's silhouettes, I decided to reference my own version of the silhouette I had created years before to avoid what could become cheesy appropriation. I found ashes from the fire pit in a garden bed and lay down in them to create a reverse effect where the ashes made their imprint on me.

Day 3
Body dig, cool earth, mirror/legs reflection.

One of my favourite Mendieta images is the leg mirror one, which I find both haunting and beautiful. I needed to do it myself to see how it felt and what it could become. I did an adaptation of hers, with the only difference being the dug hole for my body in the ground, so that the height of my legs was at ground level. I sat in this tight but comforting nook for the photo shoot. There is a strong memory alive in my legs of the cool earth to this day.

Day 4
Dead wild rose branches, bittersweet root installation against sky, hummingbird visit.

On Thursday morning, I walked around the church and look at what was growing. I immediately got to pruning some dead and dried wild rose branches. After about fifteen minutes, a large pile was at my side and my hands were full of tiny thorns. I brought the pile back to the church and the creation (above) came together at the front entrance within the day. Something of a nest beneath the cathedral door shape with dead brambles made raw and essential against the blue sky. In the centre of the Rose branches, is some Bittersweet root, a lovely orange, fragile network of threads that seemed to fit, which were collected from a pile of previously unearthed weeds. Halfway through the branch construction, a hummingbird flew in and hovered over me and this strange freely suspended nest. The tiny bird observed the gathered, hanging sticks for a good six seconds, and then zipped off. I was touched. Priceless.

Day 5
Fire silhouette, white sheet shroud, body traces, white clay powder, grass cuttings, lighter fluid.

On Friday morning, I referred to some notes scribbled the day earlier and got to work. Some thoughts emerged on actions I might take, including materials I might work with: a shrouded body in a white sheet; a string upon the ground; a line tracing the outline of my body. Over the course of the morning, a series of photos emerged of my body on the land in various contortions. An embryonic position paired with a long profile were the two I chose to work with. The long profile of the body (lying down and standing up) was one that carried on into the afternoon, but instead of an absent trace, I gave it a form and filled it with a pile of flammable materials. Grass cuttings and lighter fluid were readily available, and so I worked with that. My favourite moment that day was the burn after dark - it felt like a perfect closing moment and release to my week. The black trace on the ground the next day was beautiful as well.

View the photo archives here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Events: August 21-23, 2014.

Material Witness: Art, Activism & Fibre
Friday, August 22, 7pm—10pm. 
Exhibit runs until October 4.

Barry Ace, Karina Bergmans, Emily Rose Michaud, Bozica Radjenovic, & Mona Sharma. Curator: Laura Margita 
Barry Ace, "Nigik Makizinan - Otter Moccasins" (2014), Found leather boots, otter pelts, velvet, capacitors, resistors, diodes, light emitting diodes (LED), deer hide, synthetic porcupine hair, cotton thread, brass hawk bells, felt.

Textile is a powerful and versatile medium put to use throughout human herstory for travel, clothing, agriculture, architecture, historical documentation, expression of identity and experimental art. Barry Ace, Karina Bergmans, Emily Rose Michaud, Bozica Radjenovic and Mona Sharma are each occupying creative termini at the edges of fibre art. Each artist has followed the path of their artistic practice to an expression that is as logical to the heart as to the formal and aesthetic conversation of professional contemporary art practices.

The installation Ms. Michaud is presenting "How We Gather, PART III: Under Our Highways, Rivers Flow" was created with an artistic development and production residency made possible through the Dennis Tourbin Fund for Emerging Artists. The Dennis Tourbin Fund for Emerging Artists at the Community Foundation of Ottawa, is a permanent tribute to the greatly respected late Ottawa artist and his legacy. The fund seeks to encourage emerging artists to carry out creative works of art that cross disciplines and traditional boundaries. It also seeks to promote the presentation of art outside of the gallery walls into the public arena, reaching new audiences and engaging the community

Gallery 101 - 51B Young Street, Ottawa, ON, K1S 3H6.
Info: http://www.g101.ca/exhibits/material-witness-art-activism-and-fibre



Emily Rose Michaud, "How We Gather, PART III: Under Our Highways, Rivers Flow", 2014. Ephemeral installation using burlap, rye and wheat, Super 8 mm film projection, soundscape. 

Taste The $ource (while supplies last) 
A series of public performances celebrating water

Thursday Aug. 21 @ 2PM, Sparks Street - exact location TBA

Friday Aug 22 @ 8PM Gallery 101, 51 B Young Street

Saturday Aug 23, 8:30AM @ University of Ottawa, ARTS Hall 70 Laurier Street East, Room 033

A freshwater mermaid offers a taste of her treasured collection of often-forgotten rivers and lakes from various regions of Quebec. Some water samples are out of stock, some taste like blueberry roots and rocks – a rare experience as the commodification of water accelerates and sources of clean water become harder to find. These performances address water at first from an emotional and gustatory place, and then allow the audience to form their own response to the broader social and political issues found within. The water creature coaxes us to drink what seem to be raw waters from nearby sources, challenging us to acknowledge and adapt to the waters we live with.

Emily Rose Michaud, "Taste the $ource (while supplies last), 2014. Performance using water, various labelled jars, mermaid costume, table, signs.


Art as Resistance
Saturday, August 23, 1-3pm

Join us for a panel discussion on socially engaged art, resistance, and revolution.

Scott Benesiinaabandan (Montreal)
Adam Brown (Ottawa)
Amira Hanafi (Cairo)
Emily Rose Michaud (Montréal/Outaouais)
Moderated by: Leah Snyder (Ottawa/Toronto)

Beyond illustrating the issues at stake, can aesthetic forms themselves offer models for collaboration and movement building?
How do artists’ practices shift in response to revolution? Is a revolution a work of art?
What decolonizing strategies can we learn from artists performing and inserting their work in public space?
What role does spectacle play in creating an open space for dissent?

This is a free event. Everyone is welcome.

The Ottawa Art Gallery - 2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa K1N 6E2. 

Water Assembly
People's Social Forum 2014
Saturday, August 23, 8am—12noon

Water is both a universal right and a powerful mediator in the relationship between humans and the environment and between Indigenous Peoples and Canada.

Chief Roger William (Tsilhqot’in Nation) and Bob Watts (Executive Director, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission) discuss the significance of the recent Supreme Court ruling on Aboriginal land title within the context of international human rights law, legislation and treaty rights and responsibilities.

Participants are encouraged to bring a sample of their community water supply to guide and inspire the creation of a personal and collective framework for an equitable, just and sustainable water resources management plan and Consensus Statement during the Assembly.

8am - Water Ceremony
8:30am - Art Performance: Taste The $ource, Emily Rose Michaud
9:00 - 12:00pm - Water Assembly
12:00 - 12:30pm - Networking opportunity

Event is free (Donations welcome). Snacks, coffee and tea will be served so bring your own mug!

Ottawa University, Arts Hall, 70 Laurier Street East, Room 033.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Art as Resistance - Saturday, August 23, 2014.

Saturday August 23, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm | Free

I am looking forward to speaking at this panel discussion on socially engaged art, resistance, and revolution, alongside a stellar crew of engaged artists.

Save the date and join us! Art as Resistance

Beyond illustrating the issues at stake, can aesthetic forms themselves offer models for collaboration and movement building?

How do artists’ practices shift in response to revolution? Is a revolution a work of art?
What decolonizing strategies can we learn from artists performing and inserting their work in public space?

What role does spectacle play in creating an open space for dissent?

Scott Benesiinaabandan (Montreal)
Adam Brown (Ottawa)
Amira Hanafi (Cairo)
Emily Rose Michaud (Montréal/Outaouais)

Moderated by: Leah Snyder (Ottawa/Toronto)


This event is presented in collaboration with the Peoples' Social Forum


Friday, August 8, 2014

"Material Witness: Art, Activism, and Fibre", Gallery 101 - Friday, August 22, 2014.



Rivers and highways are on my mind tonight as I begin a massive creation. A living tapestry and projection screen (for super 8mm film on Gatineau River + Highway 5 North) is taking shape. For the next many days, my time will be spent sewing burlap, sealing my wood floor with plastic tarp, soaking, rinsing, sprouting and growing rye and wheat, writing, dreaming and planning. Thank you Gallery 101.

The piece will be a part of a group show at Gallery 101 next week, for the exhibit "Material Witness: Art, Activism, and Fibre", which opens on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 8pm.

It is shaping up to be quite a unique show and I am honoured to be exhibiting alongside such exceptional art makers and game changers. Two of my pieces will be exhibited that night, both paying tribute to our waters. Come on out and celebrate with us! g101.ca

Under Our Highways, Rivers Flow is a response to the intersecting and overlapping stories of people working to protect our waters across the globe. I am trying to uncover histories that I was never told: The Super 8mm film footage in this installation tells my story about the Gatineau River – Te-nagàdino-zìbi – I grew up on, and returned to in 2011. This project is a gesture of solidarity with other consciousness-raising movements, like Paddling for Our Waters*. It celebrates the interconnection of organic and social systems just as it honours forms of protest that are local, creative and tangible, in places that are dear to us. The living tapestry is made of grown and drying wheat and rye, and the film is projected onto their root system's surface.

Under Our Highways, Rivers Flow pays homage to the Gatineau River and our relationship to it. It is part of an unfolding body of work that looks at the pre-colonial history and bio-region of the Gatineaus – unceded Algonquin territory. The film sheds light on the River's ancestral and contemporary trade routes, while understanding the impact of highway construction, development and settler culture on the local waterways and the Ottawa River watershed. As a non-aboriginal woman from this place, I’ve grown attached to the Gatineau Hills. Over 25 years, I’ve seen the landscape change and the population grow. I've observed how attachment to and responsibility for the land often ceases to exist beyond one's property line. With the arrival of Highway Five North, our numbers will continue to grow - developments such as mining and forestry included – and likely faster than we think. The history and future of this body of water has inspired many local citizens to bridge the essential and on-growing ties between non-indigenous and indigenous communities, in an effort to recognize the importance of these waters and to protect against their ultimate exploitation and erasure.

The tapestry - before it was installed as a tent - progressed through germination, life, death over 10 days and is composed of over 50,000 seeds. The cedar structure recalls the tents used at the onset of the Occupy movement to shelter protesters, reclaim common space and take action towards a larger social movement. Idle No More's actions have continued in this vein. Like people gathering, the thousands upon thousands of seeds inhabit space with their physical presence and rely on one another for warmth, growth, momentum, in quiet homage to the power of collectivity.


* On June 21, 2013, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg members and Youth took a canoe excursion using their traditional travel route along the Gatineau River as a demonstration and to place attention on the need to protect water and eco-systems along the Ottawa River watershed. The canoe trip began in Wakefield, Quebec and arrived to Victoria Island in Ottawa, Ontario for the summer Solstice.



 























Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Artist's Statement & Biography, August 2014.


Artist's Statement
My most recent definition of art: Medicine to counter despair. Producing works of beauty or emotional power which can move others into action. To uplift others towards a common good.

Land Art, in-situ installation, performance, drawing, painting: My art weaves into its' fabric something bigger than object: Experience. I invite the public to participate in something natural, impermanent, to re-invigorate our sense of belonging. I work to collaborate with forces greater than me, to eclipse cynicism, to take responsibility for the places we find ourselves in. As a practicing visual artist, I assemble into my projects social life (and energies) not yet recognized as art. I extend my creations beyond sole-authorship, into co-authorship.

Whether living tapestry, multi-year Land Art project or electronic book made to be re-mixed, my projects embody the living processes and traces of material as social practice. I experiment with ways of working that feed the commons, transform spectators into participants, and extend artistic production beyond rarefied spaces — into social, political and environmental action. I am concerned with the living systems of our world, both our cities and villages — natural, cultural, civic — especially as they relate to municipal power, politics, and decisions that impact urban/rural development, ecology, and land use.


Biography
Emily Rose Michaud is an interdisciplinary artist and educator working at the crossroads of community organization, ecology and civic participation. Her work highlights the social importance of marginal landscapes, engages with soil as a living entity, and maintains a practice in ephemeral media. Her body of work encompasses Land Art, installation, drawing, writing, performance, and intervention. In recent years, her environmentally and socially driven approach has resulted in a series of in-situ art projects, speaking engagements, community activist art projects, performances and publications. She has exhibited nationally, both in and out of the gallery and has attracted international media attention for her Roerich Garden Project in Montreal.

Based in Montreal since 2000, Michaud has collaborated with architects, gardeners, activists, politicians, and children. In 2009, she co-founded Les Amis du Champ des Possibles, a citizen-run non-profit that demonstrates and advocates for the cultural, ecological, and social importance of wild urban spaces. Her ongoing encounters in art and the natural world tie her to the bio-regions of Outaouais in Western Québec and Montréal.

Michaud's academic outreach can be found in her contributions as editor and writer: she is the creative director and co-editor of The Roerich Garden open book project, roerichproject.artefati.ca (2008-2011) and has contributed essays and content to anthologies including DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media, MIT Press (2014), and Thinking With Water, McGill-Queen's University Press (2013).

Emily Rose Michaud holds a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Education in Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa. She lives in Gatineau.

August 5, 2014.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making Space - July 23, 2014.

Tonight it was goodbye to over 20 years of art, letters, journals, ideas and correspondences: projects, possibilities, plans and prospects on paper. Letting go. Time for the next chapter. Presence. Hope I am alright tomorrow. I definitely didn't purge everything. I kept the essentials, but am feeling lighter already. Still got a few more piles in the studio to sort. There is a fine line to holding on and to letting go. Feels weird though, to know they're all really gone and I can't just go back to them for reflection. It's in my bones now. Making space for more greatness, beauty and vibrancy.

August 2014. Big times.

Big times. Moving to town for the year to study. Camp season, full throttle. A show at Gallery 101 in the works (installation and film projection). Panel presentation, 'Art as Resistance', held at Ottawa Art Gallery discussing matters of relevance. Street performance series as freshwater mermaid for People's Social Forum. Artist residency at Star & Snake, NH. Almost all content will be about water, a subject near and dear. Working title for my G101 installation: "Over your highways, Rivers will flow."

Gallery 101 

People's Social Forum
Star & Snake


Programming for urban/rural folk

Thoughts and inspiration brewing for 100 Mile Farm, Summer 2015/2016? Programming for urban/rural traffic. Mini art residencies, installation arts fest, weed walks, activating the landscape with fort camps and building workshops for adults. I'm game. Ideas to be continued. Inspiration credit goes to Kestle Barton (Cornwall, UK).


 

Atelier de création de tapisseries vivantes - 19 juin, 2014.

19 juin, 2014. 

Presque terminée! Il y aura de 'zines disponibles lors de cet atelier. Last touches for the workshop tomorrow. See you bright and early, Montreal. A Maison du développement durable: http://www.lamdd.org/


Atelier de création de tapisseries vivantes
https://www.facebook.com/events/1498522650363662/?fref=ts



Magical skyscapes // Cieux magiques - 3, juin 2014.

So, it's dusk and I'm driving home. There are some storm clouds shape-shifting heavily above (off highway 5 north, from Gatineau towards Maniwaki, near a swamp of peepers and pines). Amorphous beauties moving fast. I had to stop, put my flashers on and gasp. Got to the laundromat...saw a double rainbow. Something big in the sky these days. Cieux magiques ces jours-ci....