flatlanders :: opening reception & panel discussion

thanks to everyone who came out to the opening reception for the group exhibition, “flatlanders” at mendel art gallery last friday night.  i really enjoyed talking to you all and meeting some of my blog readers.

many people said very nice things about my drawings.  i was very happy to hear that.

the gallery was totally packed with a flood of people.  there were so many people that we wanted to talk to.  elijah didn’t cry, he was very quiet and wanted to be held all night.  he seemed overwhemed by the number of excited people.  originally we’d planned to stay for just an hour or two, but elijah fell asleep in my arms so we were able to stay until the end.

elijah has been to the mendel art gallery before, 16 months ago — 3 days after he was born.  we were discharged from the hospital on the last day of the show i was in, ‘political :: personal’.  we grabbed all our new baby gear and drove to the gallery.  elijah was pretty good at first, sleeping quietly, but then he woke up and started to cry wildly.

at the reception for ‘flatlanders’, a few people told me that they liked the ‘political :: personal‘ exhibit more than this show.  they missed seeing animals in my new drawings for the current show.

the drawings i showed in ‘political :: personal’ were my favorite picks from the last two years.  for the ‘flatlanders’ show, i only had a couple of months to prepare, and during that time i had the fringe festival, so i did all the drawings in the course of about five weeks.  the curator told me they wanted all new work, and i’d already promised most of my recent work to other galleries, so i had to start from scratch.  i wanted to do a series of drawings in a common style.  even though i did some other, different work during this time, i edited down to 7 drawings that are similar to each other.  i finished the last drawing on a saturday, did the framing sunday, and delivered them to the mendel on monday for installation.

the 7 drawings all have the same style: girls’ heads with no body and the hair made of wood (you can see the wood grain).   different things happen to the heads in different drawings.  one drawing is bigger and more complicated, with three heads joined together.

‘tricolore’ (click image to enlarge)

it’s a different style than i’ve drawn before. my interest changes all the time and so my style changes with it.  i can’t make myself draw the same thing twice.  if you look back at my drawings over the last 4 years, you can see the changes.  i guess some people want me to keep drawing schoolgirls with fish or elephants, again and again.  it’s hard to enjoy the unpredictability.  but i can’t repeat myself, even if i wanted to, so please bear with me. :)

now i think about it, i ended up drawing only heads during the five weeks because i was wondering if my head was going to explode.   i was staying up late every night drawing and waking up to take elijah to the park during the day.  eventually my head did explode and you can see the bits and pieces of my heads on the wall at the mendel art gallery.  better for my exploded head to end up in a gallery than in the hospital.

the next day was a panel discussion with most of the 18 saskatchewan artists exchanging their opinions on:

  • the impact(s) of isolation and community on your work / how the changing Saskatchewan economy may be impacting your work / the role of Saskatchewan geography/history/culture in your work, etc. / the social role of artist in our province
  • Spirit and Matter: i.e. is the art world like a “religion” unto itself? / how spirituality may or may not factor into your work / the importance of craftsmanship / responsibilities of an artist
  • Technology and Ecology: i.e. ecological sustainability in art / impact of digital technology and communications on your work

many topics to cover in just over an hour.  it was interesting to hear other artists talking about their work.  i don’t spend much time hanging around with artists lately.  it reminded me of the ‘pause talk’ session i took part in this january at cafe pause in tokyo, without the cigarettes and the wine and the darkness.

i only spoke up a couple of times in the group discussion.  the conversation was mostly people explaining why they do what they do and analyzing the meaning of it.  i don’t spend much time thinking about what i do, i just do it.

some people were talking about how they like to work ‘slow’, avoiding technology like digital cameras and using old-fashioned techniques.  i said we should imagine the world a hundred years from now, where today’s digital cameras will seem very old-fashioned and slow.  not that i care, by then i’ll be dead — everyone laughed when i said that.  someone else pointed out that even a pencil is a kind of technology.  i agree, that’s why i like to use the latest in superslow modern technology, my colour pencils.

paul took care of elijah during the panel discussion.  they got a seat near the front so elijah could see me.  but maybe it wasn’t a good idea — he’s been very mama-obsessed recently so he couldn’t leave me alone.  right from the beginning, elijah started calling out to me saying, ‘oppai~, oppai~’ in his most adorable gentle voice.  it’s good no one understood what the hell oppai means (“breast” in japanese).  so paul had to take him out and walk around the rest of the gallery, trying to distract him.  every time i spoke into the microphone, i could hear elijah in the distance, calling ‘mama~, mama~’.

i wish i could split my body into two to cuddle him.

after the panel discussion, elijah and i sat together on the gallery stairs and he asked me “so, you’re an artist?!’

i said, ‘am i?’…