For the past three years, I've been part of an informal art group that basically makes projects together by passing them around at 3 week intervals, over the course of several months. The first year, we did altered books, each contributing pages using a variety of visual media. The second year, we wrote entries in each others' books. This year, we decided to go 3D, with shadow boxes, or dioramas. Themes have ranged from "the macabre", to "happy places" to "endurance."
I don't want to give too much away, because some of the boxes that make up my project will be on display during the upcoming women's exhibit at Wise Daughters (see www.wisedaughters.com for March 2 opening party details!). But I have to share this much...
My theme is "gender," inspired in part by the controversy last summer around baby Storm, whose parents are choosing not to disclose the baby's gender. As a lesbian and a feminist, I probably think about gender more than some people anyway.
Everyone had to tackle this theme in whatever way she saw fit, filling an empty box like this:
Today I received the box pictured below, filled, as you can see, with a plant that rather splendidly represents the theme.
This box is not exactly mountable on the wall, but will be on display during the women's show nonetheless. I can't even tell you how much this plant improved my day. It's been a strange and frustrating week, in fact, but this outrageous plant is just the thing to wrap up my Friday on a positive note. It's Family Day weekend, but let's leave the discussion about what makes a family for another blog...
Thanks to Anita for the inspired submission to the project!
It's been a few years since I've been responsible to a board of directors (my previous work was in the not-for-profit sector), or responsible for a staff of any size, and the freedom has been intoxicating.
Sometimes people assume Wise Daughters is a collective, I suppose because it kind of has that vibe, and because some other craft enterprises are structured as such. I jokingly reply that it's a benevolent dictatorship. I've been a collaborator and a compromiser all my working life, and I still think I play quite nicely with others, but being a dictator really kind of rocks. I'm beholden to nobody. If I succeed, I get to take the credit. If I fail, at least I won't feel I was powerless in the face of opposing forces, the way I sometimes did in my previous jobs (they were mostly elected forces, not much concerned with social justice).
So, here I am, mistress of my work domain. And, for the first time in my life, mistress of my domicile too. No partner, no kids at home, just a silly little dog who knows I'm the leader of the pack. In fact, I'm living alone for the first time EVER. Went from parents to roommates to partner and from there into motherhood, which lasts forever, but not under one roof (well, maybe if you have video game playing boy-men, but I have fiercely independent girl-women). When I found myself suddenly single last summer, the shock morphed into curiosity and then into invigorating experimentation into doing whatever the hell I want.
For example, last night, for Valentine's Day, I took myself to an incredible concert/reading with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Lawrence Hill. It was right up my alley, and I didn't have to be concerned about whether anybody else was having a good time. Recently I went to the live finale of Canada Reads at CBC. I play Scrabble often. Why? Because I can.
I am totally embracing my inner nerd (ok, outer nerd). My daughters joke about the number and variety of obscure free arts events I subjected them to as children (these experiences made them what they are today, if you ask me). Now I am at liberty to unapologetically pursue the oddest cultural activities I can find. Plus, I can eat single ingredient meals, hang around in my undershirt and fluffy swan slippers and yell answers at Alex Trebek during Jeopardy. It's fantastic.
Will I feel this way in 5 years? Hard to say, though I've read a lot of recent media articles about how singletons make up a large and growing percentage of households. Whatever happens down the road, I'm so glad I'm getting this time to truly be mistress of my domain.
Wise Daughters was pleased to be approached a few weeks ago by Human Endeavour, a Vaughan area agency serving marginalized communities through a number of programs and initiatives. One is Epic Mart, a "social enterprise incubator" that offers training, space, marketing and sales support to help people earn an income through craft. Wise Daughters now carries pillows made with beautiful fabrics, and unique hand-painted vases like these:
Social entrepreneurship is a growing sector. Inspirations Studio, a program of Sistering, operates using this same model; for 3 years, Wise Daughters has been selling gorgeous ceramics made by women who are overcoming poverty, homelessness or trauma. The hottest item Wise Daughters has commissioned from Inspirations is this ceramic humidifier, a low-tech, free way to add moisture to homes heated by rads.