Connecting: Baie-Saint-Paul Symposium Take 2

I get up to 200 people in my studio each day. Sometimes it's challenging to engage with everyone, but today I was reminded of why it's important to have this dialogue. I had a group of people come in the studio today, with the guide, who gave an excellent overview of my work in french, as the audience was french-speaking. After the formal introduction, one women said that she couldn’t understand how I can put so much time and work into the painting of my tiles, and to do it so well, only to have them wash away. Many people often ask me about this: why would I want to destroy my work, having nothing to remain.

To answer this woman, I told her that when I finish painting my sugar mural, and install it outdoors, waiting to be washed away, that is when the work begins: my physical work is over, but the life of the work is just beginning. I explained how I have long been interested in the tradition of Vanitas paintings, which are a signalling of life’s ephemerality, and the transience of all things. I also told her that this work is a reminder of lives that have been lost or destroyed by power imbalance and systems of oppression. Some structures need to crumble and fall in order for something better to take it’s place.  

She was very moved by this, and told me that my words really affected her. I could see deep emotion in her eyes. It was probably the most meaningful moment I have had during my time in this Symposium.  I thanked her. 

Just after she left, I had this rush of recognition that I also make these works, as a living reminder of the people that I have lost as a result of unjust power structures.  I hadn’t fully made that connection to my motivations until that moment. Sometimes, it’s the contributions that the public makes, that can result in us seeing deeper into our own work. 

Below are some images of what's in my studio this week in Baie-Saint-Paul; some questions I pose to visitors, and some new work in progress.