The opening date is approaching for Testing, Testing 1,2,3… an exhibition by Amanda McCavour. This process based installation is a result of play, mistakes, patterns and colours manifested while exploring ideas of around growth and natural vs artificial – incorporating thread-based pieces reflecting small imagined ecosystems with those that have their own internal logic. In the lead up to to this exhibition we asked McCavour some questions to find out more about her art practice and inspirations.
Tell us about your journey as an artist?
It is interesting to me how embroidery floss when knotted can become a symbol of friendship, and how through folding and cutting paper, a blank sheet can transform into a snowflake. For as long as I can remember I have been drawing and making crafts out of paper, glitter, glue and embroidery floss. It is this material exploration that still drives me to make work and these slight shifts in materials that I find intriguing.
While pursuing my BFA at York University, I came to thread through an interest in drawn line. I took a drawing class with professor Michael Davey where drawing was defined as any form of making that used line. I thought that it could be interesting to use embroidered line as drawn line. Working with water soluble stabilizer allowed me to make pieces that existed only out of sewn thread line. Finding links between the fibres of the body and fibres of cloth sparked my first series of work with embroidery. This slight shift in materials, from lines made on paper to embroidery, marked a turning point in my practice.
Since graduating from York, my work has moved from images of hands, influenced by diagrams in “how to” manuals, to life sized self portraits and onto installations that document the spaces I have lived in. In my most recent work I have been making pieces that stack, layer and fold thereby exploring thread as a sculptural element. Referencing everyday objects such as lined paper and common activities such as doodling, I hoped to engage in a playful exploration of materials using these elements to create embroidered installations.
I am keenly interested in embroidery as a process and thread as a material. I recently completed my MFA at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. There my work moved in different directions and I became very interested in the process, planning and testing that goes on to create a work. The space of the studio became a place of improvisation, testing, and questions. Through incorporating elements that have a range of my intervention at different states of completion, I was looking to disrupt the illusion of the final polished artwork, leaving room for possibility
What first made you want to become an artist?
When I think about this question, I think that this process happened in stages for me. I have always been making things so in some ways my interest in art started when I was really young. I studied Fine Art at York University from 2003-2007 where I learned a lot about making art in different ways. But, I think even when I was at school, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an artist- I just knew that I really liked making things and exploring ideas through the process of making. I remember the idea of having a gallery exhibition being daunting. At the end of my studies at York, I knew that I wanted to continue making work. At this point in time I applied to the 3 year Artist-In-Residence program in Craft and Design at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. I was accepted into the program with a one year scholarship. This program provided me with a shared space in a textile studio and a community of people to share the making process with. It really gave me the tools and encouragement I needed right out of school. Watching other artists who were a couple years ahead of me in their career gave me insight and perspective on how to make art outside of an academic context. Harbourfront Centre also provided opportunities for exhibiting that gave me my first chances to show work in a public space. Now I can’t really picture my life without making.
What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?
It’s hard to know the emotional response of people because I don’t often see or hear their reactions first hand. I do think that there is a sense of wonder that is created by the works.
What do you do when you are not creating?
Making art and doing the things to support my practice takes up a lot of my time. I like spending lots of time in the studio- trying new things out and Being an artist I’m also a grant and proposal writer, an accountant, and a researcher. So much of my time is spent in and around the activities of being an artist. In the last year or so I have done a lot of travelling with my artwork- for residencies or exhibitions and I feel that these times of experiencing a new city or space are of influence. Last winter I went to Washington, DC for the first time and saw the minerals at the Natural History Museum. The shapes of the minerals were so surprising and got me thinking of how to build work in new ways. On a daily basis- I really like walking. I think that the act of walking, thinking and looking is linked to my studio practice in some ways. I’ve recently been really interested in thinking about the way things grow so just walking around and observing has been of influence to my practice.
Testing, Testing 1,2,3… the exhibition by Amanda McCavour runs from Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Thursday, May 07, 2015.
Opening Reception: Thursday March 26th, 7 – 9pm
1386 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
Artist Talk: Thursday March 26th, 6pm – 7pm @
Carousel Theater across the street,1411 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
You can RSVP and find out all the information about the exhibition opening reception and the artist talk here.