Beth Cavener Stitcher

Why I have never come across this woman's incredible and beautiful work is beyond me. The very second I laid eyes on the first sculpture I knew I had to see more. And her website provided more luscious eye candy than I could sit still for.

A Second Kind of Lonliness

I am completely inspired and  will definitely be adding images to my sketchbook as a reference to how much gesture can peak volumes in recognizing ourselves in the Other. This piece above is my favourite. Not only does it speak to exactly how I feel these days, but this sculpture holds a little surprise: it breathes. Every eight seconds, a little burst of air escapes the goats mouth and makes the pinwheel spin slowly. Heartbreaking. Beautiful. Love.

Beth Cavener Stichter has a gift with her medium. Her craftsmanship is impeccable and that is onething I really appreciate. When I first saw these sculptures, I thought perhaps they were made of latex– that the figures might be smooth and malleable, even retain the warmth of the gallery lights perhaps. Knowing that they are clay makes me appreciate them in a whole new way. The figures are spirits created from earth like a story told long ago about man. They are fragile, mortal and somehow, with the context and emotion of the work, that seems fitting albeit a little unfortunate; their suffering will never end. But in that perhaps we are to remember all the animals who live out their days in laboratories, and factory farms, in places where they are not seen as having worth, let alone emotion or a soul. This perhaps is what haunts me most about them- they remind us of the horrors we inflict upon them for which we are all guilty.

Her artist statement describes the work but until you actually see it the subtleties of which she speaks are hard to imagine:

There are primitive animal instincts lurking in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality.

Both human and animal interactions show patterns of intricate, subliminal gestures that betray intent and motivation. The things we leave unsaid are far more important than the words we speak out-loud to one another. I have learned to read meaning in the subtler signs; a look, the way one holds one's hands, the tightening of muscles in the shoulders, the incline of the head, the rhythm of a walk, and the slightest unconscious gestures. I rely on animal body language in my work as a metaphor for these underlying patterns, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits.

I want to pry at those uncomfortable, awkward edges between animal and human. The figures are feral and uneasy, expressing frustration for the human tendency towards cruelty and lack of understanding. Entangled in their own internal and external struggles, the figures are engaged with the subjects of fear, apathy, violence and powerlessness.

Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions. An invitation and a rebuke.



Everything is Dust


I Am No One

Rabbit Leaping over Nothing

A Rush of Blood to the Head


Silent Hare


Re-Animation Station

I was stumbling around the internet for what I can't quite remember but this beautiful image landed right in my lap and like a bird following breadcrumbs I had to see where this deliciousness would end. Lucky me it ended in a feast of awesome animation.

Beast Animation Studio is a creative little studio from Belgium that makes incredible stop-motion animation. The above photo is from a project they worked on with Bertrand Mandico a French film maker who makes hauntingly beautiful short films. This project was called “La resurrection des natures mortes” and is supposed to be released in 2011 (I am still waiting but when it is released or a clip of it is available I will post it here.)

This project was of particular interest to me as it relates to research I am doing for my next body of work. Giving life to animal corpses has been practised for years to many degrees of sucess and failure but to re-animate a corpse through video accomplishes something that  taxidermy cannot: the illusion of motion. While taxidermy generally keeps the "specimen" frozen in a state of perfection, these beasts exist in a post-mortem reality where their age and matted fur are coupled with elements added by the director. This post-mortem reality speaks to the sacred and the profane simultaneously while walking the fine line between art and the grotesque. I love it!

Check out the full post at Beast Animation's Blog.  Here are some more images from the photo shoot:


Amy Dover

All I can say about Amy Dover is wow. This woman recently graduated from college in the UK and draws animal portraits in graphite on paper. Her website describes her work:

    Amy Dover's images tackle the dark side of nature, the hidden world. Beautifully executed in graphite pencil she shows, man, bird and beast in all its devastating beauty.

   Inspired by music, poetry and folklore, she tackles subjects, like death, humiliation, and deceit. Characters of cannibalistic crows, humiliated bears, and the innocence and loss of a dead sparrow.

A dark and often macabre narrative runs through every piece, inviting the audience to read in to it.

My friend and fellow artist Jessica Gowling is another artist who creates amazing graphite animal portraits. Jess, this one is for you!



Rebecca Belmore

Rebecca Belmore is probably one of the bravest and most important Canadian artists of my time. Her performances are raw, emotional, authentic and extremely powerful. I can not imagine what it might be like to be present at one of her performances, to feel her energy and have her words and gestures penetrate my skin and heart. She is inspiring to me in  many ways most importantly I strive to make my work as gutteral as possible and by that I mean I want it to hit you in the gut. Maybe not right away but I want you to feel like you care carrying something away with you in your gut, you might not be able to articulate what you feel but the point is you will feel it. Rebecca Belmore's work will punch you in the gut and have you doubled over with emotion. Her work speaks a clear truth stripped bare and in watching a performance I can imagine how one might suddenly feel extremely vulnerable. Named, a performance piece where Belmore screamed out the names of the women who went missing from downtown Vancouver, many of whom were later discovered victims of Robert Pickton.

Recently, this Canadian artist has been fighting for her right to own her own work. She tried leaving her gallery who's owner then turned around and is now suing her for nearly $1,000,000:

WORTH (– Statement of Defence), which features the sign, “I AM WORTH MORE THAN ONE MILLION DOLLARS TO MY PEOPLE,” speaks directly to the value of artists and art production in the 21st Century. The sign also references the amount of ‘damages’ being claimed by Pari Nadimi, an amount the dealer claims she has ‘invested’ in Belmore’s career. Nadimi’s allegations are unproven.

The legal battle began over 4 years ago, when Belmore, after deciding to leave the Pari Nadimi Gallery, requested the return of her artworks, related documentation and the payment (and an accounting) for artwork sold by the dealer. These basic, legal rights are still being violated. Belmore recognizes the importance of the case for herself and others: “If Pari Nadimi is successful in this claim against me, it would mean no artist would ever be free to choose to leave. Artists would be slaves to their galleries. This is a horrible precedent.”
Litigation is expensive. Belmore needs to raise funds to travel to Toronto and to continue to defend herself in this action. While claiming to be impecunious and unable to pay, Nadimi has hired a top Bay Street law firm, Heenan Blaikie. Ironically, the firm’s founder, Roy Heenan, has been a consistent supporter of Canadian art.

WORTH (– Statement of Defence), is therefore an appeal to the public to defend and support “the Artist” and the rights of artists to decide how and where their work is presented. Organizations such as CARFAC <> and others do valuable work to create conditions to ensure rights are protected and respected. However, they lack the mandate and resources to support individual artists in these cases.

I personally have never trusted commercial galleries and this is just one more reason to add to my list. I believe that artists are the lowest paid and greatest undervalued teachers in our society. Musicians get paid every time their dsong is played on the radio and every time someone purchases a single song. Why is it visual artists aren't paid every time someone enters a gallery and looks at their painting or sculpture?

If you are interested in helping this Canadian icon fight the legal battle for her right to own her own work visit:
The disputed art piece: Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother,

Love and Print Exchanges

As a print artist, one of the perks is having multiple original works to share and trade with other artists. Instead of having an inkjet reproduction of a painting or a fancy digital copy on canvas, print makers have multiple original images created by hand not machine. Another great thing about being a print maker is that we like to trade.

Print exchanges are great ways to build up a collection of art as well as get your own work out into the world. You would be surprised at how many opportunities can arise just from participating in a few print exchanges. There is usually a gallery exhibition as part of the exchange and often an online gallery where all the participants' work archived giving your little print BIG exposure. It is also a great way to learn about new artists and make new print buddies!

 Print exchanges are a great opportunity to experiment. Editions are usually quite small 15-25 prints with typical print sizes ranging from 4x6 to 8X10. Entry fees are usually affordable for most people- even students ranging from $10-$30. It is a good way to try out new techniques, brainstorm new ideas, or work out layouts for more ambitious projects. I often use print exhanges as a testing or sketching edition, working out images, colours and media experiments on a smaller scale. You can try something you've always wanted and if it's a total bust  those 15-5x7 prints isn't going to break your heart or your bank account! One of the best resources for print exchanges is the blog of a virtual pal of mine, Christopher Clark.

Chris is one of the ringmasters of Inkteraction! an online social networking site for print artists. His blog called Print Exchanges details upcoming opportunities in which print artists can participate. He lists the date, the entry fee, and a link to the site of the organization hosting the exchange. A few of the big ones are:
  1. Print Zero Studios (Seattle) They cancelled their exchange this year but promise to be up and running again in 2012. 
  2. Oregon INKSpot (Eastern Oregon University) Held annually this is a great place to start. Their Sixth Annual print exchange will begin in May of 2012
  3. 8th Annual British Mini Print Exchange (London, England) an Excellent opportunity to get noticed! Open for participation now! Deadline for application is September 21st, 2011! Downlaod the entry from from their website and keep your eyes open for next year!
  4. BIMPE is a Biennial mini printe xchange held every two years in Vancouver BC (Canada). Next opportunity to participate is 2013.
  5. Original Print Exchange (Ontario, Canada) an Open call for international print exchange.Open for participation now. Affordable and Fun!
  6. Greendoor International Print Exchange (Derbyshire, UK) Another great opportunity that you can participate in NOW! Edition of ten and the entry fee is reasonable as well. What have you got to lose?

I highly recommend joining Inkteraction! and following Chris's blog whether you live in a bustling metropolis or the blissful middle of nowhere. As long as you have access to a post office, you too can participate in the international world of print exchanges! Now get out there and play!