People @ Goddard
Residency Sites: Plainfield, VT
I have been engaged as an artist for more than thirty years in a practice that includes visual art production, installation, writing, sound, book works, film, performance and socially-engaged community projects. This is how I make my living. Joining the faculty at Goddard in 1998, represented the first "job" that I’ve had since I became fully self-employed in 1984. I live in Newfoundland, the youngest province in Canada, and one of its richest in culture, history, and traditions of survival. It is both a challenge and a privilege to thrive as an artist in such an environment... distant from the wealthy centres, committed to the margin and the possibilities it holds. Most of my work, in one way or another, emerges from this PLACE—from the daily power of the North Atlantic and the challenges of living and working on its edges.
My art practice is extremely diverse... crossing boundaries of discipline, media, and process. I have worked in the landscape with site specific installations, in the studio with 2 and 3 dimensional media, at my computer with digital imagery, and out in the world at large, with sound recorder, a 16mm or video or still camera. I make meaning in whatever media seems best suited to place my work into meaningful encounter—sometimes within the institutions of the gallery or museum and often in non-art locations. I have installed transient works that lived in wheat fields in rural Alberta, mapped the domestic landscape of coastal British Columbia, the badlands of the Canadian prairie, and rural Japan. I have created work that emerged from, and now lives permanently in, small rural fishing communities, a university medical library, a coastal marine station. I have made books for children, produced drawings for banks, directed documentaries for festival audiences and designed feature films that share local stories in movie theaters. I have collaborated with other artists live and across great distance; medical students and physicians in residence in a medical school; fishers, knitters, fish processers, gardeners and moose-cutters in more than 20 rural communities; friends and total strangers to build a village through social media, or a House of Prayer across an entire province.
For me, this is one of the most provocative thrills of practice... finding ways to open spaces for dialogue, ways to make the overlooked visible and to invite or incite conversations that are larger than those exclusively about “art”. I am process and community-based—focusing more on ways of seeing, knowing and doing, than on the manufacture of rare and beautiful objects for consumption. I see art as social labour, as a research practice and as my best strategy for paying deep attention in a world that urgently needs more than a single vision or way of knowing, to restore a sustainable more-than-human world we might inhabit together.
I remain deeply engaged in the processes of "making" and "forming"; grounded in those rituals of a physical body interacting with the material world. I respect skill and muscularity whether it is material or intellectual and while my practice remains essentially non-commercial, I continue to exhibit in the public gallery system, in artist-run-centres, and my work has been shown locally, nationally, and internationally, and is in major public collections, including that of the National Gallery of Canada.
I am a practitioner... a working artist. I am also a theorist… a working thinker. My recent PhD examined the work that art might do in the world—investigating critically and recruiting visual art as a form of knowledge production. I am a feminist; a political and cultural activist, an anti-colonial, and an ardent learner who continues to transgress the boundaries which fragmented knowledge when I was a student—whether they are between Art and Science, male and female, rational and intuitive.
The perspectives I bring to my interactions with students are those of engaged, self-examined, and critical creative practice within communities, however they might be defined. I see myself as a second pair of eyes—a supportive ally who can step into conversation with other artists about their intentions, contexts, and audiences as they develop nimble and effective critical and creative strategies for their work in their worlds. My work with students continues to enrich my life and my practice immensely... enlivening my deep curiosity about how and why we make meaning, and the work that art might perform in the world. Like my other collaborations, working with students challenges my spirit, deepens my thinking , opens my heart, and re-invigorates my commitment to a community of diverse creators who are continuously engaged in learning.
I believe that artists in all disciplines have a crucial and fundamental role to play in the elaboration and representation of cultures, in the elaboration of cultural and individual voice, in the production and mobilization of knowledge, and in the re-enchantment of our relationships with the human and more-than-human others with whom we share the planet. It is a profound privilege to be part of a creative learning community that supports these beliefs and invites me to pursue them in such good company.
Current Research Interests: art as research and knowledge production; visual and material culture; space, place and ecology; local knowledges; medicine, health, the female body; embodied labour, vernacular practice; ethics and moral geography; art and science; the politics of cultural production; feminist and post-colonial studies; theories of knowledge, cognition and perception; progressive education; representation and cultural practice; post-capitalist community economies
PhD (Interdisciplinary), Memorial University of Newfoundland; MEd in Art Education, University of Alberta; BFA with distinction (Painting, Printmaking, and Design), Concordia University, Montreal.