Walk Lightly Move Deeply

This project came to life thanks to a generous grant from Canada Council for the Arts. 

Hyperborea was a mythological place situated, mysteriously, in the far northern reaches of the continent of Europe. Thought to be a sunny and welcoming place as opposed to inhospitable cold. All the explorers who searched for the north pole had a romanticized notion of the north, though many died trying to achieve fame by reaching it. Walk Lightly Move Deeply uses the idea of the north as a metaphor for the quest for home, a search for Hyperborea, a place that exists only in the mind.

I traverse over water in its liquid and frozen forms, over mine tailings that flow like the river that once flowed over them, and on this journey, I encounter stories of lost children, I mourn fallen and hewn trees, I rue the days of innocence and play, and exalt the beauty of nature while never encountering whales and always sensing both a living and dying presence of nature.

 Walk Lightly Move Deeply is comprised of five installations, 20 short poetic and performative videos, mixed media drawings, and altered books. The sculptures and drawings incorporate textile-based techniques to anchor my inter-disciplinary practice in my matrilineal heritage of knitting and sewing.

With the support of a Canada Council research and creation grant, I was able to participate in residencies in Iceland, Finland, Norway, and the Yukon. Grace, Lost, Found, Lost was inspired by two women who were in the Yukon during the Gold Rush one century ago, Kate Carmack, née Shaaw Tlaà, and Ana de Graf who lost children in different ways. The work represents the weight of grief balanced with hope. Voyages also responds to the loss of children. For a period ending in the 1930s, Iceland had Europe’s highest infant mortality rate. I envisioned the lost infants as being sent off in burial boats and becoming one with the ocean.  This piece has a video of the sea projected onto the graphite covered strips of paper which would add to the audio of the sea rippling as people walk by and cause rustling. The heart, which is made with qiviut (Canadian muskox) wool, hangs between the sea and the fleet of paper boats. Filled with ice, it slowly empties out so by the end of the day, it is an empty sack.

 Dreaming the Whale Matriarch is an installation that is comprised of a video projected onto a whale sculpture suspended from the ceiling. The whale is made of green nightgowns, one of which is worn by me in the video. I lie sleeping underneath a progression of shadows that move across the screen. The shadows are created by a ferry at night, lighting up my apartment wall for a few minutes, several times an hour. The swaying tree shadows have an underwater effect. This piece explores the meaning behind my lifelong recurring dreams about whales. A fallen tree, made with knitting and layers of watercolour-painted paper sits off to the side of the projection.

 Abisko Shadows and Glacial Scrape combine drawing processes with textiles. Abisko Shadows also has an audio element; a drawing and embroidery of the trees and shadows in a winter landscape, the two pieces hang together as one banner, with a recording of birdsong from the same location playing overhead.  Glacial Scrape uses wool collected in northern places. The long, tendrils of knitting are weighed down by stones and chunks of graphite. It can be pulled across a long sheet of paper on the floor, creating drawn lines reminiscent of the scrapes we see on stones and boulders caused by the slow but weighty movement of glaciers.

The altered books, Klondike, Icy Passages, Elinborg Larusdottir Two Hours, and Learning Language are stand-alone sculptures that re-contextualize each volume of text; for example, Klondike is a book written in the 1950s by Yukon resident Pierre Burton. On each word that is racist or misogynist, I have placed a stone from the Yukon River. It contains about 300 pebbles. 

To view the videos, please follow this link to the playlist. Please note that the link is only available here or directly from the artist and are not currently available to the public.

Walk Lightly Move Deeply playlist

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