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Postcards of Paradise

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Special Messages of Love

What is in a postcard? Really the question should be asked; when is the last time you received a postcard? A short message, with a great picture and a sensation that someone, somewhere took the time to think of you. They took the time to write a note, put your address and stamp on it and put it in a mailbox.

Usually these postcards have photos of wonderful places. Places we can escape to in the moment of receiving this message. Our mind travels, every so briefly, and is there with the person enjoying the view. Of course, you soon think that the message is not irrelevant as the person has moved onto another place. The mail could never follow as quickly as social media.

Now we have an instant experience- we can look at social media and see the place, the moment of personal reaction to the place they are visiting. The consumption of the imagery is monumental. The reception of the postcard does not celebrate the personal sharing of a memory. In fact, there just is no connection. There is observation.

Postcards makes us feel special

When collecting postcards from the past, there is a real sense of humanity. A consistent messaging of celebrating events in life and travel. Always a message of “wishing you were here”. The sense of absence is pervasive. Even though the postcards come from 60 years ago, the messaging is often the same.

When receiving a postcard, there is a quietness, a sense of being in a space and sharing the moment that the sender is trying to convey. You think of the person being in that space. You are there in that moment- with them.

It is this sensation that the latest body of work looks at. The moment we imagine what the image says about the sender. Is it just another pretty place? Or is there a real emotional space that the sender was in when sending this postcard? When creating a painting, such as Phenomenal Woman, there is a deeper message than the image. The layering of a feminist story, played into the image, makes for a piece that  is a deeper space. A political space.

A postcard can be more than a postcard.

In reality, no image is just an image. Every image relates to a story that can be interpreted in a way of intent. Taking the image of the postcard of being by a pool is a perfect platform for another meaning. Layering the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou does such a thing. It puts a deeper meaning than escape or holiday. It puts the meaning of celebrating women and celebrating beauty a prime message. Two messages which makes this work, and this series, a fun and relevant body of work.

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Friendship creates memories.

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Friends makes us Happy

Having a group of women friends creates happiness and memories. Friendship brings out the lighter side of life and makes us realize that life is to be enjoyed. To not be taken too seriously and remind you to laugh a little at the absurdity of daily life.

For many women, working, taking care of kids and parents, having a partner are so many pieces that have to be balanced and nurtured. Much of our time is spent insuring that everyone is good. Having friendship with other women is just too much. It takes time to be engaged. To reach out and celebrate each other. A piece that often get lost in the demands of taking care of others.

Yet by not doing this, by not taking care of the personal, the resource that gives so much is not renewed. That resource is You.

As an artist, I spend a great deal of time alone. I’m not lonely. I just don’t talk to people much. It takes a bit of effort and time to understand that by doing this I am not renewing the resource that produces the art.

Art can remind you of the joy of Friendship

Looking at vintage photos of women walking together, striding in laughter and fun, reminds you of the joy. This image tells you to stop- listen to your inner voice and step into taking life a little less seriously.  This is an important piece.

How can art play a role in your happiness?

This is a question that I often consider when creating a peice of art. What messaging does it hold that takes you to a place that reminds you of joy, reminds you of escape, reminds you of love? Pieces of happiness that are critical in our well being.

Creating images of women walking together plays into this realm. As an artist it is an image that reminds me of the value of my friendships with women. Women who share my frustrations with relationships, hopes for my kids and advice for my career. Pieces of shared moments that cannot be taken for granted.

Make certain you surround yourself with reminders of laughter.  This gives you so much more than that moment.

 

 

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Resisting Delay of Creativity

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Resist the voice that says No.

What does it take to create? To make something- a piece of art, a piece of music, a new business? The making something out of nothing takes an enormous amount of initiative, motivation and perserverance. Most of the effort is the resisting of creating that seems to envelop us.  Making a piece of art is no different. Having the ideas is one thing. It is thinking through the process that takes a n amount of time to understand and go through. As an artist I make plans. I think of an image, then initiate the process. However when doing it I have to let the painting, the piece of art take its own magic. The first step is the most important- initiating the work.

Life and Making of art are similar

Many of us live our lives this way. As we get older, we have our work, our families and we are busy. Focused on the creating of things around us. Then suddenly there is time. Time to think and time to share. Time to be. What to do with your time? There can be a tendency to resisting the risks. To take initiative and be adventurous . Take life into our hands and make it a piece of art. Travel, volunteer, play golf, play bridge- all things that use our minds and expresses what we love to do. Yet there are many of us who stop ourselves and say that we just can’t do this or that. That we do not follow through and grasp onto the piece that makes us happy.

Art and Stories about reality.

The choices we make as we live our lives can go through so many levels. The first is always- what do I want to do? What do I want to create? For me, it is what do I want to say about my vision of life. Many times I am confronted with the “resisting”. The action of not taking the time and effort to create.

Stories are my favourite focus. To put together images that relate to our own place of authentic experience is the core to my work. The connections to my family and partner, the experience of adventure and release are at the core of my narrative. As I create these pieces, I try to find the Universal message. That my experience is your experience. That my exploring the dimensions of living life, and creating an image of it, is something that you will look at and be inspired to do as well.

As in the painting highlighted, Weekend Glory, a piece of art that embodies the release. The celebration of the moment and inspiration of life. Two things we should think of on a daily basis. Two things that we can move with into our world and move through without registering that word No.

To see a collection of inspirational prints see www.memoryartgirl.com

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Is your Children’s Art enough?

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Children’s art in your home does not help your children.

Can your home just have your children’s art? Is it enough to hang the naive, lovely, personal pieces of art that your kids make in your home?

A few weeks ago I was invited to a beautiful home in Seattle. The people who lived here had two middle school aged children and I was a guest for dinner. Their home was on Lake Washington with a spectacular view. Modern lines, big open walls and tastefully furnished. They had a fireplace with a big empty wall. There was a couch with a big empty wall. No art. I asked the reason as to why they didn’t have art in their home. The woman said she hangs her childrens art upstairs. She only decorates her main floor with seasonal decor. She was very proud of her children’s art which I thought was wonderful. However, since this conversation I have been thinking as to why she does not see the negative effect of not having art made by professional artists in her home.

Teach your children the value of creativity.

This maybe controversial, but just using your children’s art may in fact do damage to your children. I know what you are thinking- that this is a ridiculous statement. But it stands to reason. We learn by imitating. Being exposed to new ideas, new creativity and then incorporating it into our homes teaches us big ideas. Children look. They may be dismissive and walk by the art you have with a lack of engagement and understanding, but in reality your kids see.

They see the art on the walls as a validation of creativity. They see the stories, the thoughtfulness of your selection. They see the different uses of materials. They understand the sophistication of thought which is far developed from their own. As a parent, you can speak to the reasons why you like it, what it says to you. How it reminds you of a part of your life and outlook. Small pieces of information that go into the bucket of reasoning when your child makes their artwork, or writes their stories and essays. It therefore makes them think of bigger ideas than their own.

Make their world bigger

So with this perspective, it stands to reason that hanging your child’s art is great self esteem builder, it may actually make their world a little bit smaller. It gives them a narrower view.

So take a risk- buy a piece of art that speaks to a deeper, mature voice. It will enhance your world, and it will make your children’s art better in the long run. 

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It All started With the Word No

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There are No Women Artists

As the 2019 International Women’s day approaches in March, I am once again reminded of where my creative voice started.

It started with the word NO-

No you can’t do this because you are a woman. The message was that because I was a woman I would be paid less, be a target for violence, and be expected to expect less. These ideas made me angry. After finishing my first University degree I realized that my goal was to make art that could help cultural social change. In other words, make art that would change people’s minds.

It was to change the vision of women and make a living from it. This may sound like a naive idea. How do I make social change through Art? My answer? Just make the work and put it out there.

However the word No was loud in my head as I looked to using Art as a way to make people aware of the woman’s voice and experience. My theory was that by doing this I could make the viewer realize that women should be honored and respected.  I soon realized that “No” I can’t make a living in art because there aren’t any other women out there to look at.  In the late 1980’s there were very few women represented in the private galleries and public museums. Looking around I saw little representation or role models.

Lessons my Father Taught Me

When I was a child, my father told me I could do anything I wanted. However this was not the message I got when I was completing my first degree in Carleton University in media theory. I soon realized that, through typical “consciousness raising” feminist education , that it is a uphill battle for women. The lack of representation in museums, galleries was being highlighted by women art collectives. For example, the Guerilla Girls was drawing attention to the fact that very few women were being exhibited in major musuems.  In addition,  there was also the push for the National Women’s Museum of Art in Washington DC.  The voice was slowly finding its way to the surface. Yet there was, and still is, a systematic lack of representation of women in Art distribution channels. Art was being made- it was not being shown.

Yet I could not accept that the public- people like myself- did not want to have women’s art hanging in their home. Artists that peppered history such as Mary Cassatt, Emily Carr, or Georgia O’Keefe were out there. The issue was not that there were no women artists. The issue was the distribution. The male voice permeated through the levels of jurying and  the acceptance into the galleries. Selection did not highlight the woman’s voice. So how do I bypass this gatekeeping structure? How do I get my work shown?

Find the Collector, Find the Voice

My solution? To bypass the selection process. To go directly to the client and find my collector. Above all,  let the public decide for themselves. Over the past three decades I have worked with over 20 different galleries. Every gallery was managed or owned by women. I was able to get into these galleries by first proving I had a buying public. I had found my own client and I convinced the dealers that they could capitilize on my work. It was a sharing with the gallery. The way I did this was through competitive art fairs.  These marketing outdoor events gave me access to the public.  I could sell directly to the collector who came to these events and I could convey my message and voice one on one.

Message has to be Subtle to have an Effect

This process also gave me a clearer vision of my message. I soon realized that to be political and feminist was not a selling point. In the early 90’s the public was not ready for the feminist voice.   I became aware that I did not have to describe the woman’s situation. I had to be authentic and convey what IS the woman’s voice. Who am I? What do I do? I am a partner, a mother and a strong woman. Three elements that have developed in themes in my work. Themes of Cityscapes (which is the setting for romance and partnerships with my husband), Women images (strong vibrant dynamic images) and finally Home Sweet Home (images from the domestic space) My belief is by portraying these stories, the woman’s voice is empathized with by the viewer. The collector sees themselves in this art and renews/reaffirms their own belief systems.

So Where are We Now?

Now we are in the age of social media. As a result, more women can use the tools of media to amplify their voice. The museums still do not show women’s art except through a token few. I am often amused when colleagues mention to me to see a particular woman’s show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, as though this is the representation of many. Imagine if you walk into the National Gallery and the entire museum has women’s art hanging and only one or two male artists. Imagine what that would look like. In October the Tate Gallery in London said they were doing this courageous act. If only for a brief period of time. It does give us the thought that eliminating 50% of the voice does not represent our culture. It does not reflect who we are.

Art cannot change beliefs. Media cannot change beliefs. However, art and media can affirm, it can give confirmation and it can inspire. In conclusion,  all things that can change culture start with the voice. Therefore the voice has to be allowed to speak in order for change to happen.

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Art Has a Power.

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Art and its Power

Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Time;

Recently my teenage daughter mentioned to me that this was the most important time for women. In her opinion, there had not been a previous time as changing or life altering as the past year. I tend to agree with her. In my experience, of being a feminist for the past 35 years, I have not seen such a voice.

Movies, live theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the political stage, it has been women that have taken the lead to state their cases. Women artists led the charge with a loud voice of making their mark.  The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state their view of dismantling of sexist power structures.

I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is.

Paintings that tell the Story about Change;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision.

The painting highlighted is titled “Dance with Abandon“. A piece that brings to mind a story of admiration. The crowd beneath the girls dancing, (who are screenprinted onto the surface) watch in awe. This image of this crowd is from a 1960s Life Magazine photograph from the first NASA launch. It seemed appropiate to place this crowd with the outgoing dancing women.

We are at a point in our culture that we watch as young women take hold of the mantel and run for office. Although women have had a voice, their stepping up to take hold of the political dialogue through social media has enabled them to try to make change. There is a sense that being quiet and not acting is a form of apathy. Considering my 15 year old daughter’s voice, I don’t think that this is a option any longer.

 

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Finding Her Voice

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Finding Her Voice

Sometimes a painting such as the piece highlighted titled Still I Rise, inspires a collective reaction of celebration and empowerment.  Finding her voice is a goal that every woman has. There is an assumption that with the #metoo movement women are allowed to speak and to stand up, but I don’t think this is the case. In fact, there are many messages that young teenage girls receive that say that they just aren’t good enough. That their voice, with its brightness and loudness, is not acceptable.

Awareness of the Subtle Messages

For the past eight years, my daughter has played hockey. This sport is not based upon the construction beauty, or how they look, but on the initiative and motivation on the ice. Two traits that I try to teach my daughter. I expected that the coaches would promote these values along with the respect that girls need to be able to express themselves. The value of being able to speak, to be themselves is especially important as young women enter into early teens. The ability to express their power, in turn, makes for a girl to withstand intimidation either from school, friends and eventually the workplace. But what do you do when your daughter is in a situation that does not allow her to speak? That she must be quiet, to accept and allow the Coach on the team to bully and be intimidating. The reason for not speaking? She is accused of being a trouble maker. Watching your daughter struggle with the personalities of fellow players, and the Coach staff was difficult. At the end of the season, we left with the knowledge that we both tried to assert ourselves and still enjoy the game. We both knew that this sport did more damage than not.

A Painting that Reminds Us Of Freedom.

Painting images that have an empowered sensibility reminds us that the images we have around us are important. In an article by J. Francis Davis titled “Power of Images: Creating the Myths of Our  Time”, stated that “myths are the ideas and stories that motivate daily behaviour.” Myths comes from images and if we surround ourselves with images that state it is Right to be Free then that in turn makes us stronger.

It is important to keep affirming that a young teenage girl has the right to speak up. For me, this painting and the group of pieces that I have created in my Women Series strikes at the core of being a woman- one who has the right to speak and be herself.

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