When You Love Someone, You Make Them An Antelope Mask

My friend Natalie and I have been through thick and thin together. She has been my voice of reason when I couldn't think clearly for myself. She literally saved my life once, I am certain.  She is the friend who reminds me to let loose and have fun, especially now that I am a Mom. So many private jokes, so many battle stories, so many good times.
Source: lotusmasks.com
We met over a decade ago when she and I were educators at the Glenbow Museum. We delivered programs to school kids using the various art pieces and cultural artifacts in the museum's vast and wild collection. One particular program for kindergarteners took place in the West African gallery and required us to tell the fable of the antelope, explaining how in West African culture masks are used to help tell stories. We'd have to wear the painted wood antelope mask and jump around, make braying sounds, clip, clop...you get the picture. A the end of every shift, the antelope would return to its storage shelf near our offices so the next educator on duty could find it for their next program.

Source: imgarcade.com

A colleague of ours never, ever remembered to return the mask and so it often spent its night on the gallery floor, probably becoming alive like Night at the Museum. (Which for the record is a movie that is nothing at all like what it is like to work at a museum. For the truth on that, you should probably go here.) Nat and I got sick of this guy's laziness and so one day, we bombarded his desk with passive-aggressive post-it notes. On each one were a cartoon of the antelope crying and shaking in fear for being left alone in the gallery all night long. Needless to say, he remembered to put it away after that and the antelope masks became a little symbol for us of our early days in museums and education.

We've both moved onto to different things in our careers, but our friendship has stayed the course. We were lucky enough to work together as consultants for a travelling art program and, most recently heading up the education team at the National Music Centre. Natalie just accepted an incredible job as the Director of Education and Outreach for the Scottsdale Cultural Council, moving back home to the United States. I gave her a great reference and then cried because I knew she'd get the job and I would have to say goodbye. I will so miss having her nearby to do random errands with, make arts and crafts with and to drink gin with, to listen to old-skool hip hop with, to troll thrift stores and to watch the Young and the Restless.

So what do you do when you love someone? You make them a papier-mâché West-African inspired antelope mask...

Cereal box top makes a good plinth. Classic balloon armature with rolled paper horns and cardboard ears.
Tape. A lot of tape.
Detail shot: wrapped string for texture and egg carton eyes. Very pro technique.
Mâché the shit out of that antelope.

Once dry, paint white with gesso
Seek out some pattern inspiration: Pinterest
Ready for her new office...

Vintage, Mid Century Inspired Nursery

It all started at a neighbourhood store when I spotted the lions and tigers crib set by Pixel Organics  and thought to myself "if I ever have a baby..." Fast forward ten years and I have never forgotten that gorgeous pattern. I took a chance on a google search for "lion and tiger crib set" which suprisingly led me to it– only to find the manufacturer is defunct. A Kijiji ad appeared and I took a chance. Turns out a lovely woman in Toronto had bought the crib set and never used it and she shipped it to me! And so the nursery began.

The bedding came with a bumper and a bedskirt, two things I knew I would never use and so I pulled them apart, re-purposing the fabric to make curtains, change table covers and fitted sheets. Surprisingly easy to do if you have basic sewing skills and way less expensive then buying them at the store. The nursery is a cozy, little room with a few awkward nooks and crannies that we made the best of with shelving and a mid century modern dresser as a change table. The stuffed animals, for the most part, were mine as a child. I had a 1920's alphabet book that I took apart and framed.  I was blessed by my girlfriends who threw me a baby shower where everyone brought a children's book and I love seeing them on display. My colleagues pitched in and bought our beautiful standing giraffe who will guard the baby as it sleeps. Friends have gifted us some beautiful and thoughtful things including vintage Paddington bear prints and a mid-century modern Scandinavian growth chart. A homemade quilt from my sister-in-law is waiting for us to snuggle up on the chair and read together all winter long.

Paint: "Vanilla Ice Cream" by Benjamin Moore
Giraffe: Melissa and Doug
Whale: Boolah Baguette
Papier Mache bear wall mount: MaryMake
Frames and Shelves: IKEA RIBBA

Little Paintings for Little Spaces

Working on some small still life paintings for an upcoming New Craft Coalition show! 


The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief - But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love. - Hilary Stanton Zunin

Isaiah 11:6-9 

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

ViewpointYYC Opening

With many thanks to Noah, who arrived with a camera and took it upon himself 
to capture the evening so beautifully

Show: ViewpointYYC

If you are in Calgary I would love to see you at the show for ViewpointYYC (finally!)

Phantom Wing: Ghosts, Art and Story

Source: Caitlind rc Brown

Houses are not haunted. We are haunted, and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.
                                                                                                       ---DEAN KOONTZ, Velocity

Things that we don't want to acknowledge or can't bare to face; we push them away. Preferring to create a new, happier (but false) replacement story. An easier-to-take version. Stories that help us cope and that we believe will take away suffering. "I'm over it" or "it was them, not me" or  "outta' site, outta' mind" or "I'll be fine, just let it go".  I know now, that every time I try to ignore a story and refuse to face it, I create a ghost. And it haunts me. And the suffering is greater than had I just faced the pain in the first place. 

An art installation/performance/ exhibition, just finished in Calgary.  Phantom Wing is part of a recent trend of artists taking over pre-demolition spaces and transforming them into temporary, usually participatory, art installations. Then they, and the building they are in, disappear forever. What struck me about Phantom Wing was the locale, a 1960's addition on the historic sandstone King Edward school. 

Source: Amy Jo Espetveidt

Phantom Wing artists were invited into the school to explore and choose an installation space. An Alladian's Cave of stories, most of the artworks were created using remnants of the physical building. Leslie and Chris Bell had been collecting fire bells over several years. Inspired by some they reclaimed from the school itself, the couple re-purposed over fifty bells to create a hand-powered sound installation. Visitors could pull ropes hanging from the ceiling to make the bells clang into each other and resonate, eerily, throughout the space.

Source: Caitlind rc Brown

Guy Gardner and Sian Ramsden reinvented the ubiquitous and utilitarian school locker. They created metal Japanese fans cascading into the space of the hallway and floating effortlessly above us as we walked. On the Phantom Wing blog, Andrea Williamson writes, "as sensing creatures, our spaces shape our minds as much as our minds construct our spaces." She goes on to talk about how art installations like this force viewers to change their behaviour, their movements and therefore become conscious of their bodies.  By altering the physical dwelling, Phantom Wing forces awareness about physicality and the senses. And in that physical awareness a journey into the unconscious cannot help but to begin. That is why I love Art. It has the power to move us out of the "neat little dwelling" or "
the architecture we surround ourselves with"-- out of the safety of our false, but happy stories-- and into an exorcism of the ghosts within us.

"The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors. odd beings. terrors, and deluding images up into the mind – whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared integrate into our lives."

                                                    ---Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces