Sunday, July 04, 2021

your silence creates a world for my language

This is a post about an exhibition currently on view in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario at the artist run gallery, 180 projects.  A friend and I made the trip last week to view it.  It was my first art gallery experience in 18 months and well worth the 3+ hour drive.    

The artist is Sophie Anne Edwards, one of north eastern Ontario's most intelligent and passionate advocates for culture.  She is a poet, a painter, a curator, a geographer, and a long time arts administrator on Manitoulin Island.  I am enriched to know her. 

Sophie is easily brought to tears by the environmental crises and wanted to create a body of work that would address this monstrous, overwhelming fear in a personal way.  The artist's home is surrounded by ash trees, and she fears that they will all die because of a silent killer brought to Canada from Asia through international trade, the Emerald Ash Borer.  
The Emerald Ash Borer is an insect that drills through the outer bark to lay eggs in ash trees.  The larvae hatch and tunnel under the bark of the ash tree during the year or so while they mature, chewing lines that silently remove the inner wood.  
Another concern of this artist is something that happens more frequently than we know, yet is kept secret; domestic abuse to women and girls.  The victims are scarred for life, .  
Sophie became my CSARN mentee in 2018 and we talked and cried together over a period of  nearly 2 years.  Her ideas about materials and what she wanted to say with her artwork were strong.  Why did she come to me?  I think that she needed to slow down.  She needed to realize the comfort of hand stitch.  Although she already understood the power and intimacy of this kind of mark making, I helped her to focus on just a few of her ideas and taught her the back stitch.  
"I think about quiet violences -- to the environment, to women.  The silences that go unnoticed, or unspoken.  That happen quietly, under bark and behind closed doors.  That are carried in on crates, and through hushed words. "  Sophie A Edwards
Sophie Edwards wrapped one of the ash trees near her residence
with a bed sheet marked with red thread and hawthorns and left it for two years.  
A video of her suturing this ineffectual protection is part of the exhibition. 

"Those that go unregulated, and those that regulate us  The silences that change a landscape, and a life.  This project explores and links environmental and sexual violences."  Sophie A Edwards
"There is a silent language we can read in the Emerald Ash Borer tracks, and there is a silence we keep about sexual violences, which leaves its own tracks and traces.  This silence leaves space for the language of invasive and invaders."  Sophie A Edwards
There is a beautiful catalogue available from the artist or from 180 projects that has gorgeous photos of the exhibition and more of Sophie's own words.  
in my traces you will find silence,
or bring your own to it.
In my tracks you will find the language 
of my having been.
In my marks there is the 
record of my passage.  
Unable to read my lines,
you cannot hear.  Your
silence creates a world
for my language.

Sophie Anne Edwards

The exhibition continues until July 17.  180 projects


Julierose said...

Her work is just stunning! I can definitely see your influence --amazing stuff...thanks for sharing hugs, Julierose

sophie anne edwards said...

Thank you for this beautiful post Judy -- for the long drive to SSM, for mentoring and inspiring me.

Nancy said...

I'm rather speechless at this amazing work...the connection between the room within the walls and the world beneath the bark has been made so well. She leaves me with such a feeling of... of deep. Thank you for sharing not only her work, but the relationship that has grown between the two of you, for I think these kinds of connections show up in one's work, among other ways & places.

Judy Martin said...

Moving through this exhibition is like waking up in a dream. I’m a bit speechless too, Nancy. Congratulations Sophie Anne Edwards. ❤️ūüĆł❤️

Julie Kelly said...

Amazing and so powerful! Well done!

Bethany G said...

Your mentoring and support/encouragement of hand stitch art has lead the amazing artist, Sophie Anne Edwards, on a path that resonates with so many of us now thanks to your post, Judy. Her hand stitch is stunning and tells a story that is not only important but shares the strength of her commitment to making notice of the effects of the ash borer and the devastation that is still underway. Thank you. So pleased you could see the exhibition in person.
Congratulations to Sophie Anne.

Frank Myers said...

Her work is so passionate and I think perhaps you've helped her to slow down, breath, contemplate. This will be helpful.