For many years, my artwork has focused on tactile memory, visual memory, and the connection between my family’s history and the lives of our ancient ancestors. I’ve been incorporating archaeological objects from the Paleolithic era with objects from my maternal history, using handmade paper.
Small carved stone objects were worn around the neck or kept as sacred treasures. Despite being buried for hundreds of years, the oils from the wearer’s skin became ingrained in these objects.
These objects connected different generations in my artwork. I created etchings, drawings, and screenprints of the original objects found in the Royal Ontario Museum and other places, using my handmade paper. This allowed me to imprint the icons onto the clothing made from my ancestors’ garments.
objects “held in the hand” or worn “close to the skin” bearing the memories of those who held or wore them.
worn ‘close to the skin’
held in the hand
The Quilts were presented as quilt pieces stacked in sedimentary layers as though they were excavated from an archaeological dig. The layers were made of handmade paper, imprinted or embedded with historical objects from my maternal history. Each stack of quilt pieces held hidden mysteries which were unveiled when the quilt box (cast cotton and linen pulp) was opened and the quilt pieces were released. All of the quilts were given titles relating to my maternal history and the area they settled in eastern Ontario, Gananoque, and Amherst Island.
trunks and boxes
Handmade paper vessels used to hold objects, clothes, precious to the owner- cast from linen or cotton pulp. Some contained papers embossed with natural elements: leaves, etc. and objects belonging to and/or made by my maternal ancestors. Others contained paper clothes cast from the original clothes owned by my maternal family, embossed with textiles made by my great grandmother, Isabella.
Cast paper clothes were created using a blend of cotton and linen pulp. The pulp was formed over garments that once belonged to my maternal ancestors. During the casting process, the garments preserved the imprint of the original owners, capturing their unique essence. The paper pulp incorporated remnants of the original owners’ skin oils and mannerisms, adding a layer of their memory to the fabric
To further enhance the sentimental value of the clothing, intaglio images of ancient artifacts that were closely connected to personal experiences and intimate moments were embedded into the fabric. This deliberate inclusion of these artifacts serves to create a communal and tactile memory that transcends generations. The garments thus become a tangible link, connecting past and present, and preserving a rich tapestry of personal history.
Ancestor digital collages
digital images of clothing collaged with intaglio icons, landscape elements, textiles, and photographic images
My grandmother had a number of bridge cloths and other bridge paraphernalia – table numbers, tally pencils, tally notepads, etc. that she used for her weekly bridge club. I inherited them and used the bridge cloths in conjunction with pulp, paleolithic icons and textile fragments from my maternal great grandmother to create pieces “Bridge Cloths and “Isabella’s Luncheon for Four”.
Ancestor Bridge Cloths
Isabella’s Luncheon for Four