Friday, March 17, 2017

Studio Visit

On Monday artist Tiziana La Melia visited the UBCO campus where she gave a talk and the following day took part in crits. A stop on the crit trail included the studios of Amberley John and Tania Willard.

The image up top is from Tania's studio and is a corner of a stretched reproduction of a southwestern style tapestry pattern that provides the ground for the centre piece of a larger work. On either side of this centre piece is a canvas with photographs of folded textiles taken by anthropologist Harlan Ingersoll Smith that Tania printed onto these canvases. Sewn onto the canvases are silk ribbons with excerpts from Smith's texts lasered into them. The centre piece also carries (negative space) ribbon texts, as well as chevrons.

During her presentation Tania told us how Smith's interest in collecting indigenous patterns was in part towards the manufacture of a single (Canadian) indigenous image pattern -- a kind of salvage anthropology, a la Edward Curtis's photography and museum installation, but in this instance based in "abstract" design and, ultimately, towards a commercial application. Another interest of Smith's was the plaster casting of Secwepemc people's heads in an effort to understand indigenous migratory patterns. These castings, which are stored in New York, provide the basis for another of Tania's projects.

Returning to the image up top -- I took the picture because not all four of the centre piece's corners are fastened with staples, only the top-left and bottom-right corners. As for the top-right and bottom-left corners, they are fastened through a different system, where the staples are hidden. As I see it, these diagonal fastening systems are in solidarity with the diagonal or staggered weave of the pattern -- the kind of details Tania is attentive to in both the form and the content of her work.

For Tania's narration of Smith's silent film The Shuswap Indians of British Columbia (1928), click here.

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