The project of mapping a bee colony of 40,000 or so bees is progressing, and at this point, I’m at about 6,000 bees! So far, the piece is 9′ x 12′. The final completed piece will be about 8 times this size. I have a ways to go!
I am including the predators and pests that bees encounter in nature – from wax moths that destroy combs, to bee diseases like Varroa mites, to mice, wasps, skunks, birds, ants, bears, and of course, humans. We are, arguably, the bees’ worst enemies, even though we consider ourselves indispensible to the “domesticed” honey bee. We destroy the delicately balanced biodiversity of our planet. And, instead create food production practices based on megalithic monocultures that rely heavily on artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides. Urbanization, concrete and manicured lawns take the place of fields and meadows. All of our pollinators are in trouble, not just the honey bees.
I saw two very interesting documentaries recently – “Queen of the Sun”, and “Vanishing of the Bees.” Both films investigate the plight of the honey bee from a slightly different perspective. Both are informative and engaging to watch!
Cento: a patchwork, a poem created entirely from lines quoted from other poets.
The other day in conversation with a group of women friends, I brought up the question of identity and the role that appropriation plays in the construction of self. My view was that we quite literally produce an every-changing sense of self through and in the work of others (books, the arts, conversation, etc.). In my case, I feel there is nothing of my own in this ‘self’, (ie. original) but that all of it, all of it comes from others. To me this is clear from the way I create my drawings. They are quite literally drawn from the writing of other authors and the image making of previous artists. That is, the production of self, both individual and shared, is a becoming, through and with interactions with others – choosing, acting, living—composing a life within a social context, an inextricably social context. Even if most of my work is produced in isolation, its source is always dialogic.
My friend, Cyndy Chwelos photographed the inscribed rose petal maple leaf a week after it was made, and sent me the photograph, very kindly allowing me to post it here. It’s interesting to see the transition as the rose petals shrivel, get blown away by the wind, and the stems dry out. That’s the pleasure of ephemeral projects, the cycle of return continues on and their being slowly becomes memory.
The festivities at Sunset Community Centre were fantastic, and despite the iffy weather, the day was very well attended. From face painting, to jungle gyms, to performances, to food, to a fantastic mapping project by “Something Collective,” there was something fun to do and see for everyone in the family.
Our ephemeral maple leaf project went very well. We had lots of interested participants, and it was a pleasure to engage our visitors in this drawing project.The tiny drawings and messages are absolutely stunning! I’m posting a few of rose petals here and some images of our participants working intently on their designs.
By the end of the day, our fantastic assistants, Bal and Gourvir, had placed well over a thousand inscribed rose petals into our giant maple leaf (10′ x 10′ without the stem).
Many thanks go to the incredible Arts and Culture Programmer, Cyndy Chwelos for her unfailing support and amazing willingness to try different things. Thanks are due also to my partner, Victor Guy for being so helpful and welcoming to everyone who passed by our tables. Thanks also to our young volunteers for giving their time. And last of all, thank you to everyone of our participants who helped in creating this maple leaf.
I will be participating at Sunset Community Centre on July 1. Thanks to the fantastic Program Director, Cyndy Chwelos, we will be creating a giant, collaborative, maple leaf sculpture outside on the grounds of the community centre, with the help of community members and visitors to the Canada Day Celebrations. That’s Sunday, July 1, 12:00 – 4:00pm. The maple leaf will be made entirely out of incribed rose petals. Each participant will be asked to incribe his/her first name or initials and birthdate on a rose petal. Or, just a pattern or a design can be created on the petal if so desired. Each participant will then place the petal(s) into the already prepared maple leaf outline (made out of rose stems). It should be fun and if we’re lucky, great visually, given its 10′ x 10′ size, especially against the green of the lawns. And of course, made of out natural material, it will be ephemeral and totally environmentally friendly. Will the gods of weather cooperate?
I participated in the DrawDown again this year, this time at the Kensington Community Center. It was a great deal of fun. We had lots of visitors of all ages, and everyone was happy to roll up their sleeves and try the art activities! We did monoprint bugs, flags with good wishes written on them, stencil drawings, hand prints, geometric and contour drawings. Bravo to all the visitors who participated and to the fantastic program director of Kensington, as well as the super helpers who volunteered their time to make this day easy and engaging for everyone!
Recently, I lost Kiko, my little companion of more than 15 years. She was such a wonderful dog, always happy, always thrilled to see us, always eager to share in our lives, even the most ordinary parts, like sitting in front of the TV, squeezed in between us, licking off the butter from the pieces of popcorn that came her way. It’s strange how empty this house feels, without her energy. In the last week of her life, I started a new drawing journal just to remember her by. Here are a few pages from that journal.
Keeping in the spirit of the Vancouver Draw Down Finale, Shannon Browne, the owner/curator of the Artemis Studio/Gallery in Deep Cove, and I, offered a day of free, fun-filled drawing activities on Saturday, July 23rd. It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time greeting visitors as they came into the gallery, chatting with them and encouraging them to participate in our no-skills-required drawing activities. It is thanks to the incredible artists Elizabeth MacKenzie, Cindy Mochizuki and Arts Programmer, Cyndy Chwelos that Shannon and I were inspired to follow their fantastic project and offer this day of fun, drawing and sharing!
When I post something here on the blogsite, it feels like it should be a finished product, when in fact, it usually is not, but a work in progress – a vulnerable moment. These recent large petal images are at that state right now – still in the process of morphing – perhaps they will survive the changes and perhaps they will not. What am I looking for? A balance between legibility and opacity, between clarity and mere trace. The powdered pastel washes beautifully, leaves rivulets of grainy drips.
I’ve started looking closely at another essay by Jean-Luc Nancy (from The Ground of the Image). Entitled “The Visitation,” the essay is based on a mannerist painting by Jacopo Pontormo (1528-29) which depicts the Biblical tale of a meeting between Mary, the mother of Christ and Elizabeth her cousin. A visitation – and encounter of family and friendship between two women, and a sharing (in this case of a religious miracle).
Nancy states that the term visitation in its Latin religious form means more than a physical encounter, rather it is a space of experience, of learning and awareness. Therefore, I want to begin the work on this new essay with two recent sharings of my own, visitations (in studio) with my friends, Elizabeth MacKenzie, Cyndy Chwelos and Nina Chwelos. For me, the ability to discuss my work is a crucial part of the art-making process. The studio-visit experience is always informative, thought provoking and productive, even when hard questions are asked. I see constructive criticism as a generous act because it requires the person viewing the art work to give not only of their time and attention but also of their knowledge, their experience and their aesthetic sensibilities. And when someone gives of themselves to such a degree, their responses require attention and serious consideration in return. Honesty is often not easy, but crucial for growth. So, in gratitude for their time and willingness to share, for their constant support and friendship in life and in art-making, I thank you, Elizabeth, Cyndy and Nina.