Water Walk Sky Floating Residency

From August 13th to August 18th I participated in Felix Kalmenson‘s new art residency project “Water Walk Sky” on Toronto Island. After helping Felix with the floating room project during the New Traditions festival, Felix asked me to be one of the first artists to participate in the residency.

The first week of the residency was spent helping Felix weatherize the cube to withstand rain and cold. We used plastic siding usually found on buildings in the suburbs. It created a funny juxtaposition, as if the cube was liberated from a plastic environment and escaped to the nature of the island. One night while putting up the siding it started to pour rain and we worked all night through a thunder storm to get it finished. Working in a bathing suit in warm summer rain was very exhilarating!

Once the siding was complete I started working inside the cube. I had been given a huge roll of metallic tarp from Laura McCoy and used it to line the walls. I lined the floor with blue tarp… water floor. Then I started working on a sculptural piece on one of the walls to use as a reference for a series of paintings that I would paint while staying in the cube.

The end of the first week of my residency coincided with the ALLCAPS festival. Due to bad weather forecasting, I knew that it would rain all weekend and decided it would be best to build a temporary roof to shelter my installation. I worked with a friend and fellow painter Jonathan Edward Mayhew and built a temporary roof. Jonathan taught me some new skills and showed me different folding and darting techniques that he learned while attending fashion school. We built the roof out of an orange tarp and used a denim darting technique to make the seams waterproof. When lit from inside it created a beautiful orange glow.

On the day of ALLCAPS festival we tried bringing the cube over from the work yard to the water but was met with some trouble. One of the wheels snapped off in the move due to mud from the rain and we had to park it in the main space near the stage. At first what seemed to be a disappointment turned out was a blessing in disguise since the cube was now located right near the camping area and had more accessibility to festival goers to view.

During the ALLCAPS festival people were invited to enter the cube and look at my sculptural installation. The response was interesting as the piece itself was very reflective and would change colour at different times of day, and also reflect the viewers who stood before it. Over all the response was good and people liked to interact with the piece and also get shelter from the rain.

What was extremely exciting was that night, due to being cooped up all day inside because of rain, the weather cleared up and everyone seemed to gravitate towards the cube. Next thing you know, someone starting DJing, James Gardner from VSVSVS hooked up some decent speakers and a sound reactive strobe and we had a full blown dance party on our hands! The cube turned out to be the hottest club on the island that night, and Felix had to play bouncer at the door because of load limitations and could only let so many people in at a time so a line up was created to get in! It was interesting to observe how in such a huge wide open space, everyone seemed gravitate to the smallest room possible for a dance party. I think maybe its because small spaces force you to interact, physically touch others and create more of an intimate social situation. Had an amazing time dancing within my installation.

The second week of the residency was spent working within the cube as a studio and painting from the sculpture as a still life. One night I worked too late and I missed the last ferry and decided to sleep the night in the cube. It was great! I could hear all the beautiful crickets just out side the door. Other than that the island was very quiet and peaceful.

After ALLCAPS, someone had left me a small metallic blue balloon tied to the cube. I brought it in and it effortlessly became part of my sculpture. It would dance and sway in the breeze and keep my company as I worked. It reminded me of being a young girl and one of my first best friends was a heart-shaped helium balloon man I had received as a gift for my birthday. I took this balloon around with me everywhere. I must have been 3-4 years old. The day the balloon deflated, I remember vividly now. I lost a dear friend that day. Its so funny, I hadn’t thought of it for all these years until this blue balloon appeared. Simple objects triggering memories of simpler times.

Another unexpected surprise during the residency was that after the crazy dance party the night of ALLCAPS, the blue tarp that had been lining the floor had been worn down by all the dancing and created an interesting texture to the tarp. The lines in the tarp etched in by the feet of so many people dancing and having a fun time! What an interesting marking process! I was so excited by the textures and lines created that I decided to stretch the tarp material over stretchers and create them into their own piece. Relics of such an amazing night.

At the end of my residency, Felix, Casey Wong and I repaired the wheels and gathered a bunch of people and got the cube into the water. It was a crazy mission but it worked! I set my installation up and got prepared for the opening. I set up the paintings in the room across from the actual sculpture itself. There was a lot of reflexivity going on in that room. Felix came by with a huge bowl of watermelon for the opening.. a reward to those who trekked so far across the lake to make it to the reception. I think Blue Balloon liked its portrait… as I caught it self-reflecting.

Performance artist Kaitlyn Till-Landry was in town from New York and was invited to come and do a performance on the dock close to the cube. She recorded herself posing in a thugged out outfit on a live online web-cam snorting whey protein. She then entered the cube and immediately showed the video afterwards. The immediacy of the video performance was uncanny, and to think it being on a dock, on an island, in a floating cube. The internet is magic!

Overall my experience in the floating cube was amazing, unexpected and refreshing. It felt so exciting to be part of a project unlike anything else. It seemed fitting for me at the time personally because I was also in the process of moving my art studio into a new space, and Water Walk Sky seemed to bridge that gap and make tangible the feelings I was experiencing. Moving onwards, flowing, changing and adapting. Cube of dreams.

Thanks to all who helped with the project and to those who came to show your support.


New Traditions 2012

On June 30th, 2012… I worked with Whippersnapper helping to prepare and work the New Traditions arts and music festival. Overall it was a huge success and heavily attended. I dont think I’ve been to a more laid back festival before. Everyone was exploring the space and hanging out on the beach, listening to live music, swimming in the lake and taking in different performances. I had such a magical day and felt proud of all my friends and co-whippersnapper members for doing such an amazing job.

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During setp-up I mainly helped my friend Felix Kalmenson with this floating room installation. Weeks before we reclaimed discarded barrels from the island dump to help build the raft… which was a pretty treacherous mission, but we came out alive! Felix then spent all week building the room and structure, then I helped with final touches and helping haul it to the beach. Overall, I think the project was a huge success, and when inside the floating room looking out the window, it gave you a sense of calm and serenity… just beyond the crazy party that was happening on shore. That night, once most of the crowds had thinned out and gone back to mainland, a lot of residents and other artists swam up to the room and really max out the capacity. It was so much fun but also frightening because it looked as if the room would just fall apart. If anything it tested Felix’s workmanship, and passed. The room held up with over 15 people inside, all singing and dancing and being debaucherous! I have fond memories of moon jamming with the CN tower liquidation guys and Emily Hogg, serenading the moon… and watching the crazy red moon-set with Sandy Plotnikoff. I was also given the opportunity to test trail a performative project of mine called NIGHTLIFEGUARD… which essentially was just to look out for people swimming in and out to the room and just generally be the life guard for such a crazy night. And also to provide glo-sticks and strobe lights. I got really positive feedback about the project idea and it really has motivated me to keep going with it.

Felix Kalmenson is working on making the Floating Room an artist residency. I will be the 2nd showing artist in this new space! Please support!
For more info go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/waterwalksky

Crystal Resin Magic

If you didn’t already know this about me, I am a crystal enthusiast and a geology lover since I was a kid. I started collecting rocks and fossils at a very young age, and as a young girl was more into dinosaurs than barbie dolls. To say the least, this interest hasn’t faded over the years, and if anything has only increased. When I began doing research on superstitions, the evil eye and ideas about “power of the gaze” it lead me straight back into crystals. Seems that there are a lot of old and new age beliefs about crystals and the “powers” they potentially contain. Some crystals like quartz can emit and electrical spark when struck together, others like tourmaline can produce + and – poles when heated or rubbed. The hidden nature of crystals and minerals is often overlooked or just thought of as “pretty rocks”, it also seems to be a growing trend but with very little understanding of minerals and geology. It can seem that human being’s attraction to gems is just an aesthetically pleasing one, but when you think of the millions of years, the amount of heat and pressure that goes into nature creating these gems, it really does begin to make more sense that these stones could posses higher energies and vibrations. Even if people have a little-to-no knowledge of crystals, perhaps they are sub-consciously attracted to their “hidden energies”? Just as people say organic fruits have higher energy content than GMO foods, why can’t stones and crystals be the same? Now, at this point you’re starting to think I’m a total geek, and you are absolutely right. To find out more about my personal crystal collection, you can check out my rock hound page: http://canadianrockhound.ning.com/profile/VR

Recently at the studio, artist Sarah D’Angelo and I were on the subject of crystals when I told her about this new thing I heard about through crystal websites called ORGONITES. Now, orgonites are a specifically new-agey concept. It’s the idea that by using metal, crystals and resin molds you can create meta-physical psychic filters. The metal supposedly attracts negative energy and the crystals transmute this energy upwards and outwards while the resin pretty much just suspends the materials in a shape. This whole concept was created and scientifically studied by psycho-analyst Wilhelm Reich. Scientifically its a very interesting theory and Sarah and I became obsessed with the idea of making Orgonites!

Since Sarah and I are both beginners to resin use, we used this interest to begin experimenting with resin and learning how to use it. Overall it’s been a fun experience with satisfying results. Here are the first batch of Orgonites I’ve made. They were made from gem stones beads I’ve collected from discarded jewelry found at thrift shops and I specifically used shapes that some people would refer to as “sacred geometry” to create Organites for specific purposes. Expect more from me soon!

Tetrahedron Organite: Contains smokey quartz, Hematite, burnt sage and joint roach. Use: to overcome addictions/smoking.

Cone Orgonite. Contains: Quartz, Smokey Quartz layered in rock, copper penny. Use: Stabilizer/Focus.

Quadrahedron Orgonite. Contains: Quartz, Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Tiger's eye and pink Aluminum . Use: Attracting Love and Self-love.

3-Teir Pyramid Orgonite. Contains: (from top to bottom) Quartz, Mother of Pearl, Malachite, Turquoise, Hematite, Tiger's Eye, Copper. Use: Multi-purpose. Healer. Transmutes negativity, removes fear.

Don Blanche 2011

I just got back from an amazing artist residency called Don Blanche. If i had to describe the residency, I think it would be along the lines of an artist’s resort or retreat, since it is very much a rejuvenating and inspiring experience. Don, who owns the property, is a very talented and noble man who has dedicated his life and his practice to the reusing of materials and with what other people consider “trash” he makes the most amazing things. He has made such a beautiful space and invites artists to come and refresh their senses. Not only that but he gives them total freedom to create whatever they want! Not very many people like Don exist on this planet that’s for sure… which is a shame. It’s inspiring to meet others like Don and Swintak who have a deep sense of responsibility (as artists) for the wastes they produce, the way in which their work effects the world, and how we live in it.

I went to Don Blanche with no concrete ideas, however I knew wanted to do something with a sound element. I met another artist named Skye Louis who was also in the same head space as I. We got together and discussed some ideas, then split up to investigate the property and find a good spot to work with. I went through the whole forest without much jumping out at me, but on my way back to the barn I stumbled upon Skye who was standing underneath a group of apple trees. She certainly found a magical space to work with! We decided that one of our main guidelines to the installation was to only use materials found in the space our salvaged by Don. No new products our materials were bought or used during our project.

While Skye started hanging nails and making chimes, I started landscaping the area making it more inviting and safe for visitors. The more dead branches I pruned back, the more the space evolved and the landscape revealed itself to us. There was beautiful rock formations with green moss growing and deep fox holes. After I did the landscaping I joined Skye with making chimes and made dream catchers, or what I liked to call “worm-catchers” which acted as talismans on the trees. Skye had been sticking nails into apples which reminded me of the old English superstition of warding away the Evil Eye by sticking nails into pigs hearts or onions then through the process of binding, protect the space by hanging the talisman in the area.

[these illustrations are taken from the book The Evil Eye by Frederick Thomas Elworthy]

So I took Skye’s apples and bound them, concentrating on positive and protective thoughts, then combined them with the weave process of making dream catchers. I was really happy with the results. I hope to go back to Don Blanche to take a photo of the Worm-Catchers after the apple has decomposed.

For the final touch, I used all the pruned branches to make a fence and spread out hay on the ground to invite people to sit, camp, or nap in the space. Heather Mclean stopped by to help us too by making God’s Eyes and decorative weaves in the trees surrounding the area. Skye’s girlfriend came and visited us and helped by making candle holders out of cored apples. She also brought her thumb piano and played along with the chimes blowing in the wind. The sounds were truly beautiful!

Overall, I was very happy with our collaborative project which I feel not only created a intimate space to meditate and sit, but also replenished the area and revitalized the trees. Working with Skye was a breeze (pun intended!) and our creation of the “Wind Garden” seemed to please all of its guests. At the end of the week, someone by the name of Louis Flapperjack published a cute haiku about our installation in the Don Blanche newspaper:

hey, what’s that noise?
there be nails in those branches
sounds like groovy bliss.