Thursday, November 22, 2012

The House With the Golden Windows


It has been a long time since I have written about this piece.

When I made it, we were living in Kenora, a middle sized town in North Western Ontario, two hours drive from Winnipeg, six hours from Thunder Bay. 
I was 40 years old and had four children ages 4 – 13 years.  My husband had just left Kenora for a new job on Manitoulin Island, and the children and I would soon follow him there.  It was the final year of my fine art degree from Lakehead University and I made this piece for my degree exhibition.  One of my advisors was Mark Nisenholt, who I will always remember as the one who loaned me his copy of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space.  I have my own copy of that book now, and re-read it regularly. 
Sewing and quilting were not looked on with favour by the university, but for some reason, that did not deter me.  Rather, I was stubborn about it and built this house with thread.  I poured attention and time into it.  Ned was gone and I needed to finish the drywall and painting that had been left undone in our home so that we could sell it.  I sewed the magazine papers to the canvas in the middle of the night while the children slept. 
That was the year that I shared a studio with Barbara Sprague, an artist who was in the same stage of her fine art degree with Lakehead.  The studio was important to me.  I needed to pin the papers up on a wall and step back from them to look, I needed to be able to leave them in piles, untouched.  I left home for the studio as soon as my four year old stepped on the bus for junior kindergarten in the mornings, and was home again before she was dropped off around 11:30 am. 
 (This isn’t really an artist statement; it’s more of a memoir.  )
The way that windows are able to look like gold at a certain slant of light was the impetus for this installation.  When I was a child, we lived in the country, and I remember being in the back seat of the car driving home and my mother telling me to look at the golden windows of the houses that we passed.  And I did.  I looked at them.  They had a magical quality.
So magical, that when I was a mother of four and had a house of my own I remembered that idea of looking at domesticity from the outside.  Of imagining what it might be like.  What it could be like.  That is what the outside walls of this piece are about; the dreams and hopes a young woman has for her home and family.  So many of those dreams are fed to us by our society’s consumerism and by the fairy tales we are brought up with, but some of them come true. 

It’s very complex.  I built the walls of my house from small squares of paper carefully cut from glossy magazines that promise a beautiful life.

11 comments:

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

i love this
a lot. the fringe too, that you
put fringe.
i love the way you have told this
story. without fringe.
Thank You for this.

Nancy said...

It is very complicated...and beautiful, this life of ours...this piece of yours. I will look for the golden windows as I travel to visit family today. Thank you.

Roberta said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece as well as it's history...and yours. Compelling.

Jacky said...

A beautiful story, full of hope, of love of family.

I will always remember to look for the golden windows now.

Jacky xox

saskia said...

you have made me look back at my own (family)life and what I want(ed) for our boys, my place there; good art does that I guess, thank you for retelling your story here.

Margaret Cooter said...

Apart from the story, there are the raw materials - those pictures cut out of the glossy magazines, those many individual inspirations and aspirations - I have a collection dating back to the early days of my (renewed) creative life, all sitting in drawers, not looked at for nearly a decade, while that newly-hatched life has grown ever larger. I cannot choose whether to choose just a few, the ones that are still compelling; or whether to jettison them all, keeping just the memory of making the collection. Meanwhile, the drawers stay closed...

Threadpainter said...

pessegui 7Great story ... thanks for sharing that ... we all could stand to know more about each other.

montse llamas-artsandcats said...

The more I know about you, the more amazed I am about your talent and the way you create art!

mansuetude said...

Judy, i love to come sit by You as fire. As warm inspiration that never goes out!

Thank you. Thank you.

April said...

its nice to hear a story that you already know (very well) told again, and learn so much more.
love you mom.

jude said...

that promise of a beautiful life , that was such a good detail to know.