This show gave me the opportunity to express what it means to feel connected to something bigger than myself, to the infinite. I felt invited to participate because it made me slow down and go within. The Shrine theme called for moments of reflection and peace, something that is very needed at this time in my life and in this world. For me, the sacred place to honor is not outside but inside within me. In my piece I express the divine body – a refined subtle body of light and energy connecting us to a source beyond ourselves.
In the process of creating this piece I was constantly reminded that life is all about LOVE.
I have vivid memories of an impromptu shrine set up to commemorate the lives of three men killed in an ammonia leak at our local hockey arena in Fernie, BC last year. The theme made me wonder how best to share my work as a blacksmith and felt maker at the same time as pushing myself creatively – using the cumulative knowledge gained over years to make something deeply personal…a shrine for me. So I experimented with thermoformable felt over a bronze casting I’d made of my face and incorporated LED lights to convey a sense of mystery – a bridge between this world and the next. My choice of colours reflects the glorious season of Autumn; a symbol both of decay at the time of the tragedy and regeneration – my own October birthday, the beginning of another year. Reflecting on the finished piece gives me a quiet sense of satisfaction and I’d be intrigued to see if my cremated ashes will one day dwell inside.
Instinctively the Shrine theme brought up the idea of my process, I place I go to in myself to meditate and express my daily observations through my analytical approach of techniques and the natural outcome of what wool will do. Even after much reflection, I could not shake my initial feeling of “My shrine is my process”. The biggest challenge was how to express this in just one piece? So I decided it would be just a small reflection of this one particular period of time which made me realize that my Shrine is a constant evolving metaphysical place.
‘Saint Marilyn’ has become a very personal piece for me. When I read about the theme I had an almost immediate sense of what I wanted to explore. ‘Saint Marilyn’ is a shrine to a specific person but really explores ideas of of aging and how we can have agency of what we want that to look like. My friendship with Marilyn redefined for me what it means to get older. That the experience of living doesn’t have to get smaller with age but quite the opposite, old age can be defined as a time of adventures, creativity, curiousity, openess and new friendship. This piece for me has become a physical reminder of the important lessons my friend gifted to me and is part of my own personal mediation on getting older and what I strive for in my own life.
I mulled the theme of Shrine for many weeks after first reading, asking myself “what DO I hold dear and deeply?” I had many answers and slowly they coalesced into a theme with the old tree on the family farm floating into my thoughts frequently. The choice of wearable art seemed right since it allows the wearer to hold near their “shrine” across place and distance. Since then, I’ve continued to collect seed pods, cones and nuts which likely will surface into other pieces.
The title Shrine brought to my mind images of reliquaries, created by the devout members of the Church.These were often decorated bones from saints, found within the Catholic canon. I decided on a Triptych which speaks to the holy triumvirate of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But I switched that idea to focus on revered female figures with no religious connotation. Making it a vertical form also delineated from the norm and fulfilled the dimensional requirement for the exhibit. I wanted to include a skull and the Georgia O’Keefe skull paintings, with exotic flowers blooming from an image of death lead me to the crowning headgear worn by Frida Kahlo and to the idea of regeneration found in Emily Carr’s Red Cedars rising from the fallen trunks of old trees.
Creating the Skull was the greatest challenge as I had never yet tried to wet felt a three dimensional form. It required a lot of experimentation and fueled the outcome of the final piece. The search for the correct shapes of driftwood for the horns and corona included many beach walks which also led to the decision to use the same material for the supports between elements.
Throughout the creation process, I was imbued with a sense of connection with these iconic female artists. Each of them were challenged in the creation and acceptance of their art and I feel this is a apt way to honour three women artists that have inspired me to take greater risks with my art.
On first hearing about the shrine theme, I honestly wasn’t too sure. I come from an iconoclastic religious background and, as I became an adult, shifted towards thinking in terms of evolution and scientific methodology. Consequently, I have little familiarity with shrines. But when I started to think about them being places of contemplation and reflection, an idea started to form. I’ve been saving a baggy full of plastic beach debris from a trip to Kuai, knowing that someday a project would come along that lets me express my concern about what we are naively doing to the environments we celebrate. I’ve been creating imaginary sea creatures and installations for a few years and wanted to push my sculpting skills with armatures and felt. These things came together and a sea shrine was born – it was all a bit of an evolving process in terms of researching, designing and using techniques that are new to me. I am particularly pleased with the subtlety and prettiness of the labyrinth path and its intrinsic aesthetic contrast with the fact that it is made of plastic garbage.
When I began my piece, I was going to explore “the apron” as the sole object for the theme of shrine. Then, I was thinking of a title and found “Humbles gestes au quotidien” which gave more meaning to what I was thinking about and how I wanted to represent it using 2 mediums.
The underlying narrative became richer as I thought of the daily, unnoticed actions of women of the past as well as nowadays.
Strongly inspired by the Boro work of Japanese women my piece came together very smoothly, stitch by stitch.
Connie Michele Morey
I tend to think broad, about systems and the way the world is put together; it’s the way my mind works. When I first saw the theme “Shrine”, I immediately thought of values, social values and traditions. Textile traditions, like felt, have existed as a domestically gendered and overlooked art form. My work “taste”, explores questions of what we value and what we consider to be good taste, it is in a sense of shrine to gender and domesticity.
Making art for me is a process of not needing to know; it’s the only area in my life where I trust myself completely. No one tells me what to do, and social codes can be turned inside out. I choose the forks, the reclaimed wood and the various shades of red and pink these sculptures for “Shrine” initially because it “felt right” however, in the process of making the reasons for decisions come to light. Art making for me is a process where decisions are made and then reasons follow, but the reasons are important, they enrich my thinking about the work and the world and catapult my intuition. It’s a beautiful thing to trust oneself in this way and I think is the gift of making.
When I first read the theme, it seemed to be thrilling – how would a felted piece show the idea of shrine? Building a little house was too obvious, so I started thinking, what else can serve as a container for sacred objects, thoughts, ideas… I remembered the saying: “your body is a temple, your body is a shrine, treat it as precious”, pointing the fact, that we all carry a spark of Divine energy, as a part of the Universe. That is why I made garment protecting the Sacred Body. To make it stronger, I used leather belts and copper buckles, enriching softness of the wool and creating the contrast. This vest, resembling ancient armor piece, was not just a regular piece of clothing, but it took some effort to develop proper pattern and attach the closure. Labyrinth patterns on front and back symbolized life as a journey, beautiful and dangerous.The finished piece looked soft and flexible, but also strong and durable, easy to adjust according to your needs. I would like to incorporate some details into my next works, adding more leather and metal pieces, bringing more diversity to the felted texture.
“A shrine?! The atheist in me at once rebelled. I agonized through the obvious and landed on “Strong Spaces” – a three part journey of self-determination, resilience and recovery. I added symbols of unity, messages to inspire and tiny candles to light the way. This uncertain world gives us many reasons to retreat; but these strong spaces mean to give us places to grow bold.”
Upon first reading about the shrine theme, the ideas immediately started flowing. I had several concepts that I was toying with, however, one really spoke to me more than any others and that was creating a tactile homage to self; a shrine celebrating and venerating who one is at their core.
My piece, Self-Reverence, is a literal and allegorical personal reflection of self-love, which is translated in this piece through my passion for colour, texture, and form. A picture of my face printed on canvas and sewn onto a felted doll head is enveloped in a kiss from rotund felted lips, representing the love for self. The lips and head are at the top and centre of the work, symbolizing what would typically be a god-like figure for veneration in religious shrines. The nuno felted lungs and sternum are enveloped in a hug by a felted torso and rib cage, representing the love and respect for self that comes from within. I hope that when onlookers view my work, they will be encouraged to delve deep within themselves to find, embrace, and revere their own uniqueness.