We humans are a part of one heaving organism, entangled and tumbling over one another. Using sculpture, installation, and mark-making, my work explores the tension between individuality and the multiplicity of our species, impermanence and the embedded potential for transformation, visibility and anonymity. Drawing on the lineage of Romantic landscape painters of the 19th century who aimed to remind viewers of their diminutive status in relation to grand vistas, I aim to create visual experiences of our interconnectedness to each other and the Earth. In contrast to the Euro-masculinist sublime of the 19th century which focused on defining, containing, and dominating the Other (including nature, women, and people of colour), my work emerges out of a feminist sublime which disrupts the fantasy of a sovereign self, separate from and in control of the Other. My sculptures, installations, and mark-making examine the power of the small when gathered into intricate ecosystems. An on-going meditation on our interdependence on the Earth drives continued reference to landscape both in the materials I choose and the way I compose them.
Existing along a spectrum of becoming and undoing, my installations reflect on the transience of our collective existence, full of the potential for continual transformation. I often compose my works using primarily unfired clay accompanied by supporting materials, imparting them with precarity while reflecting on our dependence on the Earth. Working with unfired clay allows me to create temporary structures which are ultimately dismantled, and the materials reused in new configurations. This primordial material also bears the memory of the earliest artists, offering a connection to human and non-human bodies across time and space. Even when fired, the accumulation of ceramic remnants allows for a continual shift in form through piling, bundling, and breaking. In this way, whether the clay is fired or unfired, time is an important component of my engagement with materials – both in terms of the labour-intensive nature of my work, but also in terms of the potential for its on-going transformation.
Emerging from a desire to be seen on my own terms, my mark-making practice blends references to Colour Field painting and cave paintings. Just as prehistoric artists recorded their presence using pigments of the Earth, my finger paintings record my presence with a simple, yet persistent gesture. Using soil, clay, and naturally occurring oxides, these paintings connect me to the earliest artists, as we insist on recording our existence with the Earth. Until the 1960s, Canadian immigration policy overtly favored people of European descent. The legacy of this policy is visible in every room I enter. It reminds me, an Egyptian-Canadian, that whiteness was the goal for this nation. It is in this context that I continue to assert my right to take space and make space for others to join me in recording our presence. My extremely individual mark is a universal one, shared among all humans.