My mother has taught me what a gift means. In the 36 years I have had receiving, participating and witnessing giving I have learnt that gifts are an acknowledgement or affirmation of who the receiver is. I have learnt that time and depth of thought communicates more than monetary value. I have learnt that the receiving of a gift is just as important as the giving. I have learnt that gifts are both an act of caring and creativity.
Relational art has the potential to follow Elaine Scarry’s definition of beauty as something that drives you forward into new acts of creation. I believe one way this can be achieved is through a work that speaks to the genuine and authentic experience. As I anticipated my mother, grandmother and myself for the first time living in the same city for the month of February this year the artist in me was excited about possibility. Brainstorming work that could speak about generations of care, of love and of learning and speak of the intimacy of this back into the art world got me stuck because none of it allowed for intimacy with the three of us together.
And so we three made a duvet cover for my grandmother’s small half of a room in the care home where she lives. My grandmother picked the fabrics and instructed us on the finishing details. My mother and I took her advice on the best flowers to make their way onto the project and pulled out our embroidery skills from years past. And we all spent time stitching, sewing and ironing. We all spent time together remembering the projects of the past and the way they were markers in our lives, we spent time remembering how each of us learnt these skills, we spent time learning new things about each other as we engaged with each other in this intimate work of relational art.
2012•treaty 1 land•winnipeg