I intend to present photos, paintings and sound for this installation which will examine the Old Indian Burial Site in Opasatika.
The idea of memorialization with stone is ancient and cross-cultural. In some cultures, a simple pebble or stone was left at the gravesite. In others, a pile of rocks might be left, forming a cairn. One can find complex structures such as mausoleums, chapels, and palaces constructed out of stone.
Stone has always been a symbol of permanence, hence its prevalence as a material for memorialization.
Common in many cultures is the idea that we imbue the stones with memories. It is not the stone per se which has value, but the memories which we attach to it. It is these memories and the stories we tell which immortalize us.
Although I had been exploring the topic of how we are remembered and how we remember others for some time, my father’s death in 2012 provided impetus for me to engage with this topic on a far more personal level. I had collected stones over time and various trips, and already been working on a series of paintings of them (the beginnings of the Mortsaf series; see Portfolio: Mortsaf) when he died. Growing up, my family had a log house on a lake in the Laurentian mountains, and it was that place that I most closely identified with my father. Typical of the geography are massive granite boulders, and my father and I gave our own private names to many of those that ring the lake. I began to paint large-scale pictures of these (Mortsaf for my Father: Balcony Rock, 2014, see Portfolio: Mortsaf). These works are not intended to be mimetic, rather they are based on my memories and impressions.
Often, as I research and develop a series I use photography. It allows me to share exactly what caught my eye at a given moment: the textures, colour, and detail. In visiting cemeteries, I noted that many gravestones had artificial flowers placed atop them. The juxtaposition of the improbably coloured and arranged flowers with the natural surroundings made them even more poignant (Fleurs sacrées series, 2013-ongoing, see Portfolio: Fleurs sacrées ). These works are in themselves a form of memorialization, in that the titles of these works include the family name of the deceased and the cemetery in which they are laid to rest.
The text which can be found on these grave stones is also of interest to me. How to convey a life lived in but a few lines? What impressions of that person are we left with? The Souvenir sacré series (2013-ongoing, see Portfolio : Souvenir sacré) title can be viewed from two perspectives of the word souvenir: the English connotation of memento, and the French of memory and remembrance. One interpretation does not supersede the other; I view them as complementary.
For this particular exhibition, I would propose a series of photos based on the Old Indian Burial Site in Opasatika, combining elements of both the Souvenir sacré and Fleurs sacrées series. I would also include as a counterpoint two of the large paintings from the Mortsaf for my Father series.
The photography in this section represents some of the photos which would be exhibited. I would intend to do other work at my residency at Atelier Topaz prior to the exhibition in Fall 2016 (ie: photos of the signage for the two cemeteries, a sound work).
There are several other activities I would hope to do during my residency: talks to university and high school students (in French).