Migration Parade: An Update for July
Textile Residency at Island Mountain Arts in Wells BC
Settling back home again after being in the the exquisite peace of Northern British Columbia for a month. Despite current world events, I was fortunate to still be able to travel to Island Mountain Arts, in Wells, BC, in mid June for a month-long collaborative residency with sound artist, Danielle Savage. Danielle wove her way from Montreal, quarantining in Penticton for two weeks before we drove up to the residency together with a car full of wool, wire, and the contents of my textile studio, as well as various recording equipment and a lot of good food.
Our goal for this residency was to focus on the textile aspects of "Migration Parade", a large-scale felt and sound exhibition. Danielle would be learning about fibre and textiles from me in the studio. This would allow us to really delve into the ways our work could be transdisciplinary.
In the first stage of "Migration Parade", we worked in a multidisciplinary way - The mediums existed and commingled in the work, but remained to a certain degree separate. In this residency (and in the next residency we will be doing in Morelia, Mexico, where our focus will be on the modality of sound and I will assist Danielle) we wanted to challenge, refine and take this a step further by moving towards a medium that is not felt, or sound, but some expression of both at the same time.
We had many questions around this before the residency, one of which was if it was even possible to find a truly transdisciplinary approach between two mediums that are so different (textile/felt and sound). Something that has made this especially interesting and challenging is that we are working as a collaboration, rather than one person working in a transdisciplinary way (which is what the word normally implies). The fact that we are working in relationship with each other forces us to greater degrees of creative attunement and communication about our individual processes. It also means that, to a certain degree, we have to educate ourselves about the other artist's medium enough that we can contribute ideas on their intersection.
At one point in our month of work, Danielle pointed out that it would be almost impossible to do this type of arts-based exploration into collectives (one of the major themes of our work) as an artist working alone. We were struck by how the artwork and research seemed to require more than one of us to come into being, and how fitting it was to be doing this exploration into collective experience through artistic collaboration.
One thing that came out of this month of intensive work was the development of a collaborative symbology that has been serving as a kind of mythological architecture for us. Another important shift was the realization that the sculptures relate to each other as a cyclical process. I had known that we were working towards a final exhibition of about 9 sound/textile sculptures (set to be finished in late 2021). What I didn't know was what would guide each sculpture's form, their relationship to each other, the way the sound technology would be integrated and shape - or even be - the textile composition, and how this would all sit in relationship to the gallery room itself (bringing the work to its final state of being an "installation" than an exhibition of individual pieces).
Changing the way we viewed the sculptures from individual entities sharing a space to seeing them as a type of story about a process was a really exciting step for us in all this. One step at a time, we slowly move closer to seeing how it will all fall into place!
This fall/winter, from mid October until mid January, I will be working intensively on the large textile sculptures from my studio in Penticton. Danielle will research sound technologies from her studio in Montreal until late November and then will join me in Penticton for some integration of our findings for the month of December. If you find yourself in the Okanagan during this time, do send me an email and come up for a studio visit. I would love to share the current incarnation of this work with you.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts