Thursday, July 30, 2015

Me now

My dad somehow saw this picture of me on LinkedIn and sent me the following note via email:

Well its a good photo of a serious professional like you see on Linkedin.
Bears little resemblance to the Rowan we raised through all those years.
Just your professional visage facing the market place.
Evolution I guess.
Love Dad. 

 I think this is who he remembers. I'm on the right. : )

Monday, June 8, 2015


Everything is awesome. Summer has suddenly arrived. I'm working harder than I have in a long time which has been informative. Peonies are everywhere. Ladies of late spring with their lace edges and indeterminate scents. Who can say what comes next. I just hope it's more of the same.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Animated thought

Just wondering about what easing restrictions on weed means to society. More slacking, more woodwork, more obesity? Only time will tell. I'm not sure what goes on in this "lounge" I spied on Broadway in Vancouver the other day. Pot is still illegal here but the cops maybe look the other way. In Washington pot shops are popping up everywhere but it still feels like an underground society to me. Business conducted behind frosted windows under plentiful surveillance. The distinction between recreational and medicinal use is blurry as you'd imagine.

Click on the gif to make it play.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

No one's gonna love you (quite like I do).

I heard Jenn Grant perform this song live on the radio the other day as I was waiting in my car in the border line-up. This song was written after the death of her mother and so it struck a chord with me. I had a good deep cry as I sat there, inching forward in the pouring down rain.

It was 17 years on March 3, since my dear mother died. Amazing how it can be so long ago since I saw her. She is with me always.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Art and Commerce

I had a story that I was telling myself about making art. It was told to me by someone who influenced my life at an early age. The story goes like this. To be an artist you must not do anything else to earn a living. You can only make art and that is it, nothing else, you will suffer because no one really understands an artist's life but you will be superior because you have made this ultimate sacrifice in the name of art.

I understood that I needed to make a living and I chose graphic design and that is what I have been doing since I set foot on the pavement outside my college. Internally I made the distinction between art and design. Design was a living, art was uncertain. I chose a life with some certainty of an income and for many years I supported myself and my artist husband while he suffered along making art but very little money. We both suffered and I think art suffered too.

What I now understand about art is that it's a practice, and in the 29 years since I graduated from my college with a degree in Fine Art, I have been practicing my craft and my craft is art. I feel a sense of relief at this revelation. There was no time wasted—as I had thought—not making art because I was making art, and I was living a life that I had solely created for myself. In the 29 years since graduation I have been  honing my visual acuity and my discipline toward art making and art theory.

Lately I am working on projects that seem to blur the lines, or bridge the gap between art and design. I am supporting myself and my child by working hard at what I know and love and I am challenging myself all the while enjoying the life I have created for us.

I will always work. I think working in collaboration with others is what really makes us whole. I am sorry for those who lock themselves up in their suffering and superiority in the name of art. Art doesn't ask that of you. Ultimately being self supporting is the most freeing of all things. To be an independent person, a free thinker, unencumbered seems a good goal to me and the right thing to do to really begin to explore creativity.

There is a subtext here about the person who told me this story. We have to pay in this life. We either work and pay our own way and carve out time for what we love, or we find a way to integrate work and art, or we siphon our living off the backs of others, our spouses, parents, the government. Whatever you choose you have to eat and keep the lights on and someone has to pay those bills. Someone has to get up everyday and have a plan for how you are going to eat and I think it's reasonable that everyone who is eating is contributing something in some way, artist or not.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Cowichan Sweater

I had this whole post planned. Several weeks ago now I heard a story on the radio that got me thinking about my Cowichan sweater and my west coast roots, and I thought I would write about it. Sadly it was not very interesting writing and I have come back to it today to finish it up and discovered that my uninspired writings were not saved. Well dear reader, you have been saved.

In the meantime I am picking up clues, like stitches. Did you know you can start making something and in the end it can be much larger than where you started? Thinking about art all the time is like this and that is what I have been doing. Thinking about art is an odd activity, I guess it's similar to thinking about enlightenment, maybe they are the same thing. I am trying to see what is unseen and make an opinion about that. I am trying to hang onto the opinion just long enough for it to be shot down by some other observation and subsequent opinion that has formed. It's like watching the tide come in and go out, like watching the day pass, minute by minute, the light changes, the trees move. It is a symphony. It goes on without any input form me. My role is inconsequential but I am so fascinated to watch.

I am waiting for something to emerge. Last week I suddenly understood a series of dreams I've had over the years. The dreams were uncomfortable and odd and I could never see what they meant at the time but now I can see more clearly what they were about. The common theme was deep dark spaces that I was required to go into. In almost every dream I was surprised at the existence of the dark space, down a hall, behind a room, under the stairs. These were dark spaces with no head room and I never went in. They were close spaces with cold dry walls. Out in the open of my yard it struck me that these dreams were about this work. The deep work, the unknown knowing that goes on during exploration and reflection. I never wanted to fall into those spaces afraid of what I might find and fearing getting stuck in there. Now I think I am beginning to scratch into those deep places, put my fingertips on them, feel the rough edges of what could come to be known.

Maybe you are curious about the sweater. It was a gift from one of my brothers. It is a classic west coast design and it is one of my most cherished belongings. Here are some links to the original DNTO story that inspired me, a film about the history of the Coast Salish knitting, and the writer whose thesis inspired the film.

All for now. Keep on making, keep on seeking.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hello 2015

January 2015 selfie

In classic style I have missed making a big statement at the beginning of the year. Here it is a few weeks in and I have had some time to think about what I might attempt to achieve this year. And let's not forget things happen. I have come to expect this. Sometimes the thing is predicted or suspected, sometimes it's a complete surprise. Since I cannot control such happenings I am dedicated to making good use of change because it seems to be plentiful.  Every change is an opportunity to work harder, try a new approach, change my mind, be happy.

I began 2014 thinking I might die shortly but it turns out I likely have a way to go on this earth. Realizing that, I have made a list for 2015:

Keep on going as I have been only more so

Go to the dentist

Keep thoughts organized through daily journaling

Do more cardio

Use the internet for more productive things than browsing social media

Swear less

3D print a pair of shoes

Write an artists statement

Plant an herb garden

Write 12 letters to 12 people about art making

Consider blurring the line between art and design

See more art/theater/film

Write a memoir

Make more clothes

Travel somewhere in a plane

Celebrate birthdays of friends and family with more gusto

Preserve food

Read more

Watch TV less

Post signs

Embrace my mammalian existence

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I heard this poem this year and I was struck by it. Growing up in Northern BC I knew about residential schools. I knew they were unhappy places, I saw the unhappy results of them on the streets of the town where I spent my childhood. During a recent trip home I was astounded at how separate the two cultures were, ours and theirs. Hearing the voices of First Nations men and women during this time of truth and reconciliation I feel there is so much work to do to. As westerners we cherish our heritage, going to great lengths to preserve pieces of the past in an effort to stay connected to it. We don't seem to offer the First Nations the same regard and they are fighting against the strong current of time that threatens to wash away many of their traditional ways. Maybe it is paternalist to suggest they need our help but I feel we can't stand by and let the culture collapse any further. I give you this.

MONSTER POEM – Dennis Saddleman

I hate you residential school, I hate you,
You're a monster,
A huge hungry monster,
Built with steel bones. Built with cement flesh,
You're a monster,
Built to devour innocent native children,
You’re a cold-hearted monster,
Cold as cement floors,
You have no love, no gentle atmosphere,
Your ugly face, your monster eyes glare from grimy windows,
Monster eyes through evil, monster eyes watch and terrify children, who cower with shame.

I hate you residential school, I hate you.
You’re a slimy monster, go away you’re following me wherever I go,
You’re in my dreams, in my memories, go away, monster, go away,

I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster with huge watery mouth, mouth of double doors,
Your wide mouth took me, your yellow-stained teeth chewed the Indian out of me,
Your teeth crunched my language, grinded my rituals and my traditions,
Your taste buds became bitter when you tasted my red skin,
You swallowed me with disgust, your face wrinkled when you tasted my
strong pride,

I hate you residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster.  Your throat muscles forced me down to your stomach,
Your throat muscles squeezed my happiness, squeezed my native ways,
And you throat became clawed with my sacred spirit,
You coughed and you choked and could not stand my spiritual songs and dances,

I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster,  your stomach upset every time I wet my bed,
Your stomach rumbled with anger ever time I fell asleep,
Your stomach growled at me very time I broke the school rules,
You didn’t care how you ate up my native culture,
Your veins clotted with cruelty and torture,
Your blood poisoned with loneliness and despair, your heart was cold,
You put fear into me,

I hate you residential school, I hate you.
You sqeezed my confidence, squeezed my self-respect,
Your anals squeezed me and then you dumped without parental support,
Without life skills, without any moral character, without individual talents, without a hope of success,

I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster.
You dumped me in the toilet and you flushed out my good nature,
My personality, I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster.
I hate, hate, hate you.

Listen to Dennis read this poem.
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