Heidi Mckenzie | Blog
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Figuring a Way..

I attended day one of Crafting Sustainability yesterday at OCADU facilitated and produced by Craft Ontario. The opening keynote speaker, Judith Leemann challenged us in thoughtful ways to consider how we understand and approach our world as craftspeople and makers, citing historical  anthropologists and contemporary thinkers Gregory Bateson, Margaret Meade, and Naomi Klein . Highlighting the fact that most see objects, as makers we might consider the materials in which the object is made, shifting the lens, and considering source materials as a state of constant unfinishedness, seeing the re-purposing of material as life itself, rather than ‘recycled’.  Key thought: material is always on the way to becoming something else.

Another key idea – is that makers create stories and that stories are the indirect media through which our creations are carried forward and communicated to a larger community. That we might try and see the inherent value in “the thing” rather than make it dependent on the outcomes associated with its environment. In the spirit of this insight, two stories I care to share that Leemann shared. The first – two wood firing potters set up a pottery and realize that they need a lot of wood – so in order to fuel their craft, they retrained as arborists, and began a business “Treecycle” where they cut down unwanted/old trees and take the wood away for free for use in their kilns.  Nice.

Second story is about Theaster Gates – one of my favourite artists since I saw him sing and dance with brave irreverence at the AGO last year, and keynote at Milwaukee’s NCECA. Leemann was involved in a progressive performative exhibition installation in Seattle, where each invited artist had a space to transform based on the instructions of lack thereof of the previous artist – Gates was last, and he chose to coat the entire exhibition space with white porcelain slip, all the while singing his hymns of praise to Dave the unknown potter.

Stories whether true or fabricated, are imbued with a certain degree of fiction, and as Leemann reminds us “fiction opens up a spec in us to feel how much we want some thing. Parting words of wisdom: Craft has never been learned by waiting to know enough.

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transference isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be

So I’ve been mucking about with trying to reproduce similar type “mimesis” work to what I did in Denmark – and decided I’d like to go with colour transfers. Friends have tried and true results, but I’m having a difficult time getting a printer to be happy with my very expensive waterslide decal paper.  On the flip side, I’ve improved my Photoshop skills tremendously with a little help from my friends.  The concept is still the same – to ask us to consider the different facets of our lives, and how we live our lives – crazy, high tech, fast faced, or rooted in nature and in touch with our environment….

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Re-inventing the mould

And so the process begins, as I sort through the next installation positives for my mimesis series where I’m interested in pointing the finger to various facets of our lives and of society. I hope to make three different moulds to work with this winter/spring.  Just pressed sculpture clay around to find what I wanted in terms of form, built a cube of plaster and literally sawed off the edges. Starting to make a mould – its’ an uphill learning curve, as this is NOT my forte, and I’m missing my mentors from Project Network in Denmark.

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Macau Visual Arts Exhibition

This stunning array of contemporary to traditional calligraphy and ink painting is open to all amateurs in Macau – what a treat! Feast your eyes:

In the Loop Install


I’m thrilled to be showing with this stellar group of artists at the Living Arts Centre – I felt elated to be able to realize the hanging piece I had started at Sheridan – and add to it conceptually, where the pieces hanging are the distillation of my self as a “white” person having grown up in brown skin. Stay tuned for the psa re reception to see the work.