Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Official

The Exhibitchin' poster went out this week.

So now it's official.

Like, for real.

Ain't no goin' back now.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Perpetual Light

left side of box

right side of box

Our Lady of Perpetual Light

Ta da! After a year and a half of trying to pull this together, I present to you "Our Lady of Perpetual Light". It is my comment on women and education. I was particularly affected by the recent story in the Globe and Mail about the woman from Bangladesh who wanted to pursue her Master's Degree. Her husband did not agree with her and gouged her eyes out.

That information was exactly what I needed to finish this shadowbox.

As always with my shadowboxes, everything means something. Metaphors, symbols..... look closely and you'll start to "see" a narrative. The outlet cover on the right hand-side of the box has two Muffy faces. One has her mouth taped over to symbolize that, in countries where men don't condone education for women, women do not have a voice or are not allowed to have an opinion. The other Muffy face has her eyes taped over, to represent the woman who had her eyes gouged out because she wanted to further her education.

The switch plate on the left shows a woman's hand reaching out for knowledge or understanding. On both plates are glued the novel covers of "The Vindication of the Rights of Woman" by Mary Wollstonecraft. It is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe that women should have an education.

The strings, fish hooks and male hands at the bottom of the box symbolize how women are held back, restrained from pursuing or denied education, or harmed because of their pursuit of education. ('Cause being uppity ain't right.)

The books stacked in the corners are novels and texts written by women who were considered feminists or on the cutting edge for their time, or both. I think I have actually read most of these books! Of course I included 'Valley of the Dolls'....... a tongue-in-cheek reference to my main subject, Muffy.

In the centre of the box, Muffy is wrapped in a cord that is supposed to hold lights (bulbs = light or enlightenment) but the bulbs have been taken out. Her face is covered and is only showing her eyes, a loose reference to the burqa which is worn by women in some countries where the education of women is not supported.

She is holding a Chatelaine magazine, that says "Eat Great, Lose Weight". That's a whole other reference to women and body image, and how we need to be educated to be more accepting of ourselves. The media often tries to sell us on the idea that we are never too thin, and that happiness is just the right self-help book away. Sometimes, fashion magazines are merely another medium within which women are told what to think.

The dog in the centre is my play on the word 'dogma', or God spelled backward, and he's wearing a rosary. He's also sitting on half an apple. Apples are associated with teachers and Eve (who ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). The dog's half apple represents only half of the truth, or a reference to only educating half of a country's population. It also refers to incidents both present and past when much of the violence against women was done in the name of God; half-assed, half-baked, and decisions made by half-wits.

The blocks at the bottom are my version of alphabet blocks, which of course are toys for kids learning to read. My blocks are covered with pages from a bible which, not that long ago, was often the only text women were allowed to read. I really like the headings I chose to glue on the blocks: Laws Regarding Slaves, Good and Bad Women, Snares of Evil Women, Marriage Laws, and Holofernes' Violent Anger. (When nasty General Holofernes was drunk, he was beheaded by a beautiful widow named Judith, and then the Hebrews were able to defeat the enemy. Judith was a smart girl. Yay, Judith!)

This box, #4, took me almost a year and a half to make, partly because of the setback I've had with my hand injury, and partly because I was waiting for the right bit of inspiration. I am glad that Our Lady of Perpetual Light is done, but I am sad to say that the whole box finally came together in my mind when I heard about the blinded woman from Bangladesh.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blossom Baton

Once again, ARTcrawl was great! We saw two talented artists (Ania and Cornelis) at their opening at ARTspace, ate lots of sushi at the almost-renovated William Street Cafe, sampled chocolate and Turkish Delight at Eve Chocolatier, and ended up at the Thames Art Gallery for another opening (Systems Check), Bob's Rockabilly Band and Dance Dance Revolution in Studio One.

The photo above is the Blossom Baton I made that led the ARTcrawlers from ARTspace to the Thames Art Gallery. At the top is a plastic figure of Blossom, one of the Powerpuff Girls. (She used to be a bubble bath bottle.) The theme of the summer ARTcrawl on June 18th was Manga, in honour of Mitsutaru Yokoyama, a Japanese Manga artist who was born on June 18th in 1934. Manga and anime are related, so the Powerpuff Girls reference was appropriate (and I just happened to have a Blossom bubble bath bottle kicking around, believe it or not). My favourite part of the baton is the old brass pin glued with the green army men- it says "Boy Scouts- Be Prepared". That's right boys. It's always a wise move to be prepared. You never know when a cute girl with a bow in her hair is going to surprise you with her super powers. Or kick your ass.

I had a great time! Many people, including me, went to ARTcrawl in costume inspired by anime. My friend Irene bought me an Alice-in-Wonderfland Harajuku Queen of Hearts costume from a secret source she had found, and she bought a similar outfit for herself that was inspired by the Mad Hatter. Angelina, who is an artist with very cool pink hair, won the best costume for her Sailor Moon outfit. Irene and I danced and danced. We were just two women in their 40's, dressed in inappropriately short little Alice costumes, having fun at an art gallery party.

Good fun was had by all, including my teenage son who watched me dance with a mixture of embarassment and pride.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Retrofest 2011


Blue Heaven

At the Capitol

Green Light

Arms to Hold You, My Dear


Full Sail

Dark Star


Blue Bird



One of my favourite things to do is take pictures of all the cool cars that line King Street during Retrofest. This year's outing produced some great shots. Of course, I couldn't resist pumping up the colour using Photoshop. It was a cloudy day and I find that the muted light on overcast days really makes images pop, especially when I'm photographing chrome and paint. (It can be quite difficult to get a good shot of a very shiny car.) Processing these images with Photoshop makes the colour and lines pop even more.

I think 'Gearhead' is my new self-portrait. I didn't 'see' me reflected in the chrome of the rear view mirror when I was taking the shot. It was a happy accident.

Behind Her

Behind Her

This is what happens when I try to do Non-Representational Art. It looks abstract (which is a totally different thing). And a little angry. But I think it turned out cool, nonetheless. 

I ordered something from Etsy from my friend Brenda, and she sent the item carefully packed in shredded paper. As I unwrapped my item, I started to notice that the paper was from a vintage book, and the more I read the strips, the more intriguing they became. The story involved compromised virtue because of a stolen kiss..... or something equally hilarious. I thought the strips might be interesting in this piece, so I glued some of them on the canvas and painted over them in spots. The title of the piece comes from a few words on one of the strips.

I called the end result "Behind Her", and it is now on display in the Mezzanine of the Thames Art Gallery as part of a Non-Representational Show.

I like the spidery drippy parts best.