It has been a life-long habit to spend countless hours pouring through family photographs.
I am enthralled by the expression and perception of a moment through a photo. A very interesting topic in the age of social media...
When I create art, I like to extract and add elements from photographs to give them them new life and meaning – often making images move or printing or projecting them in unlikely ways.
The art work here, "Washing Your Clothing in my Culture", was created for a group show at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in 2000. The images are of me and my mother silk-screened on birch-veneer to appear as though we are part of the wood grain. The images have been made large wooden containers, meticulously created by piecing together layers and layers of cut-out plywood.
I was struck by the similar stance in these images – both are related to the construction of the female identity in different ways. The image of my mother (right) is of her at 16 years old carrying a basket of clothing to wash in a creek in a small village in Portugal (to scale). At 6-7 years old, I am pictured striking a familiar pin-up pose (scaled to my current height of 5 ft, 7 in).
We are three daughters in our family. My mother loved to make dresses for us and keeps treasured dresses in a chest. Wooden dresses sit on top of the sculpture of my mother – as if she is supporting and being weighed down by aspects of the female identity. Elements of the printed dresses are embroidered, a painstaking process of drilling hundreds of holes and embroidering through the wood. The image of myself is also embroidered in the areas of the bikini. Portions of embellishments are illuminated and brought to the fore while other parts of the images appear to seep into the wood.
My age and my mother's age (at the time of creating the work) are reflected in the layers of wood of the sculptures. Mine is 28 layers deep and my mothers is 53 layers deep.
This piece is about my identity as a girl, woman and daughter and how it has been influenced by cultural standards, expectations and conditioning.
Creating can help us heal, purge blockages and see things differently. Making art empowers me to create my own identity. I hope you have a creative outlet to help you do the same.
Do you have comments or insights to share? Connect with me to let me know what you think!
*Big debt of gratitude to Artist and Mentor, Richard Toms, who was instrumental in helping me create this work.
The role of clothing and costume in creating identity is a significant aspect of my work. Over the course of a year, I created costumes for five characters represent archetypes of women in fairytales – queen, princess, crone, godmother and pauper. Through an interactive media-rich installation I explored the role of fairy tale and fiction in permeating perceptions of women in our culture.
I find that the best way to gain insight is to go inward.. and there is no better guide than nature. The process of going inwards helps me be the person I need to be – to go to the heart of a challenge no matter how difficult and to vision the next best steps for me. Read the Jan edition of Elsii E-News.
Every decade has an essence. The 1920s were about modernity, technology and consumerism. 100 yrs later, we are seeing the impacts of this movement. 2020 has come in like a lion — my hope is that we go out like a lamb in 2029 — let's make good choices and set the tone! Read the February Edition.
A magical night and day with amazing writers/artists from Toronto Bloggers Collective. We played, explored, learned and, shared. Than you for a delicious vegan meal from Copper Branch Bowmanville and Twenty 1 Desserts. Big thanks Central Counties Tourism, York Durham Headwaters & Durham Tourism and everyone who made it happen! View the video.
Sometimes special people come along and give you what you didn't know you needed. What an incredible gift from Shayne Traviss and Timm - a Holi Celebration at the Timm David Shampoo Company. It was a feast for the senses - kundalini movement, meditative music, indian cuisine, flower confetti and a community of people to celebrate with. So much gratitude. View the video.
In our culture, we often avoid, repress, deny or minimize experiences and emotions that are perceived and judged as negative. Yet it is precisely when circumstances are beyond our control (such as now), that darkness and difficult emotions can come to the surface. Be kind to yourself and bring light to the dark - feel what is arising with curiosity, non-judgement, compassion and understanding. Read The Light Side of Dark.
On this day eight years ago, I was part of a remarkable experience that reminds me that when the time is right, the universe will conspire to make things happen and that with focused intention, hard work, love and joy, miracles can happen. Read more. #LennonandMaisy #VideosThatGoViral #RealDeal
What are the moments that have made this time memorable?
My memorable moments - 3 months in 3 minutes.
Pictures can be portals that help us ease old traumas by empathizing with the little girl or boy within. Go back to a time of difficulty from your childhood. Envision yourself speaking to the little you with understanding and compassion. This exercise can help you with self-love.
It is very heartening to see so many people deepening their connection and appreciation for nature and the local community. I feel deeply that this trend will continue and that we will all grow where we're planted. Read the July edition of Elsii E-News.
Sharon Mendelaoui, Founder and Creative Director of Daily Dream 360, writes about her profound experience at The Hive.
"I had no idea that during this visit to the Hive Centre and by participating in a few spiritual ceremonies, crafts and nature walks, I’d receive so much enlightenment." Click here to read Winter Spiritual Retreat at the Hive Centre in Durham.
*Photo by Barry Best Photography.
It was quite thrilling to hear the sound of soulful music emanating from The Hive Stay in early September. A group of incredible musicians came together to get creative. Their inspired energy resulted in numerous original songs. Can't wait for the next event!
An unexpected collaboration occurred at the Nature of Self Retreat in early September. Water came to play! The end of the retreat, which is usually closed with a fireside ceremony, was rained out. We emerged from the forest to a petite downpour. We gave thanks to the water for showering and cleansing us. Water was definitely the dominant element of the day! Watch the video.