Worn Worlds
Work created as part of the John Willard Residency at the Art Gallery of Burlington 2019

Many elements were woven together together to create this body of work beginning with the initial proposal to the John Willard Residency. Exploring and applying sustainable practices to my art production was encouraged. I began thinking about using materials that would not cause harm to the environment, including upcycling of existing textiles that would otherwise end up in landfill. This approach required that I limited the amount of new materials used. The raison d’être of the residency ꟷ John Willard’s life and artistic production ꟷ as well as his partner James Hart and the special relationship they had , also informed my work. My research bound all of these elements together, during which time I discovered that many textile art academics in the UK - thanks to Penina Barnett's direction - had written extensively about cloth , its properties, how it embodies human experience and emotion, and how cloth triggers memory.

My first drawing teacher, Michael Fernandes, shaped my approach to art. Fluxus, a group of artists, poets, composers and designers whose philosophy he subscribed to, emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. In his work, Fernandes believed that everyday life should not be excluded from art. A direct approach to creating work using the minimum amount of means required was encouraged. Fernandes used everyday objects and experiences to make connections between the installation created and the viewer's own life.  Installations intentionally leaves room for the viewer to respond and interpret the work, leaving it open to various reactions, some of which can be uncomfortable.  

Louise Bourgeois’  textile art work was  especially seminal in freeing me to create art pieces that defied the conventions of beauty and perfection and expressed the genuine and authentic self, opening up a whole new territory of self expression outside the periphery of socially prescribed norms. 

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Community Participation component

Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington Ontario 2019

Clothes are our autobiography and our identity. Through them, we “can trace the connections of love across the boundaries of absence, and  of death, because cloth is able to carry the absent body, memory, genealogy, as well as” the characteristics of its materiality.

 

In his article Worn Worlds: Clothes, Mourning and the Life of Things, Peter Stallybrass tells us he lost his friend Allon White to cancer. When Allon died, Stallybrass came into possession of Allon’s favourite jacket. Stallybrass wore it to a presentation where suddenly, he was overcome with emotion and could not continue. He  recalls,

“…I was inhabited by his presence, taken over…..he was there in the wrinkles of the elbows, which in the technical jargon of sewing are called ‘memory’.  He was there in the stains at the very bottom of the jacket….above all, he was there in the smell”.

 

He goes on to tell us that clothes and textiles that are part of our everyday life, receive us and yield to our shape, absorb our odours, scents and perspiration, wearing in the places where our bodies exert more friction. When parents, children, close friends, and lovers die, their clothes still hang in their closet “holding their gestures, both reassuring and terrifying, touching the living with the dead.”

 

Textiles are witnesses and recorders of our daily lives. Our skin, the food we eat and other particles become imbedded within the intersections of the threads. They absorb scents from our immediate environment and those that emanate from our bodies. Our fingers recall their feel,  surfaces, textures, and materiality. The sensors in our fingers like threads dressed on the loom of our mind, unspool our feelings and our re-memorying of a person or events.

n this installation, the community was invited to share garments and textiles that held a special significance for them and share the story behind it. For each item, a link is attached where you can read the story.Views of the exhibition are also included. 

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