TALL TALES OF MILL STREET
WILLKOMMEN!— What tall tales does your neighbourhood share? A haunted house, a crazy neighbour, a secret, long buried creek?
At the Mill Street LRT station a giant yellow pig, an orange lucky rabbit, and a sky blue version of local legend Christian Eby greet riders. For my first public art commission, I gathered stories from the Mill Street neighbourhood, combining them into a steel-collaged trio. The neighbourhood is rich in tales—from the old Schneider’s abattoir, to a 19th century faith healer, to the unbelievable abundance of rabbits popping every evening, to an apple orchard that used to grow here. It’s about the tall tales—all of the when I was your age we walked through blizzards to get to school. It’s the stories people tell even when the factory is long gone.
My approach to public art is one of inclusion. Based in creative non-fiction, the narrative should be easy to read and resonate with the community. It should also be fun, or at its best funny. I worked with Eventscape who manufactured the 3 plasma-cut steel sculptures that are a direct translation of my ink drawings. So, what stories do your neighbours tell at backyard parties?
TALL TALES OF MILL STREET
It's happening! Our public sculpture piece for the KW's ION light rail project is coming together. Here's a shot of the maquette in situ. Fabrication and installation—hopefully scheduled for November!
THE BRAIN IS WIDER THAN THE SKY
This summer I had the pleasure of participating in Crystal Mowry’s exhibition “The Brain is wider than the Sky”. https://kwag.ca/content/brain-wider-sky-curated-crystal-mowry
Here’s what Crystal wrote about my installation. Such a privilege to have Crystal’s succinct words—two paragraphs that capture all of my intentions and hopes for the piece.
“Tara Cooper’s installation takes its name from the first line of a poem by Sue Goyette. In this text, Goyette crafts a subtle, yet mysterious, personification of the Atlantic Ocean. Vast, but within reach, the ocean seems to want more from us than simple adoration; it wants to know that our infatuation is sincere and is curious to know how we imagine its existence.
Combining myriad craft-based techniques and found nautical elements, Cooper’s installation functions like a travelogue of the artist’s own seaside research. Each object contributes to a broader sense of the complexity of its inspiration and the impulse to navigate the unknown. Flags bearing abstract imagery and references to the Beaufort scale – a system for measuring wind based strictly on observation – remind us that communication and perception are central to wayfinding. The elliptical forms and reflective surfaces throughout the installation might be seen as a metaphor for the cyclical rising and falling of tides – a kind of gravitational dance between astronomical bodies. Part watercraft, part collaborative study, The ocean is the original mood ring reminds of the poetic potential that can found when curiosity fuels our efforts.”
In Chasing the Perfect, Natalia Ilyin talks about going to grad school: how she imagined meditative walks in the woods and lots of time to think. But anyone who’s gone to grad school knows that this is not the case, that the reality has more commonalities with a marathon — something that pushes your physical and mental state.
Since January, I’ve been on sabbatical, and this show is a mash-up of what I’ve seen, done and thought. Being on sabbatical isn’t exactly a marathon, nor is it as fraught as grad school, but it’s also not the leisurely time imagined. There’s pressure to achieve, pressure to justify the privilege, and an overall undercurrent of urgency propelled by the knowledge that it will be years before the next one comes around.
On Sabbatical includes excerpts from an exhibition I had in January and one coming up this summer, drawings of an outdoor public artwork that will be installed this spring, the beginnings of a collaborative project with McGill University’s Redpath Museum (one of Canada’s oldest natural history museums), and some work I made on a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. It’s got a bit of the ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ vibe, but also offers a kind of behind-the-scenes look at the creative mess — the doubts, false starts and things that keep me going.
This spring I participated two artist residencies. The first was in April at the Vermont Studio Center and the second was in May at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Both were amazing! So much goodness that’s it’s hard to articulate the highlights. My best advice is to see for yourselves. Here’s the links:
THE REDPATH MUSEUM
Terry and I spent the month of March at McGill University’s Redpath Museum researching the musuem’s natural history collections and present-day fieldwork. It was the initial foray into a longer project tentatively titled The Canadian Explorer’s Club. Thanks to everyone at the museum for making us feel so welcome and at home. We also loved staying at the Darling Foundry, which was within walking distance and provided a beautiful space for working, not to mention all of the artists we met. If you haven’t visited the Redpath, it’s a must see for Montreal—Canada’s oldest natural history museum with many claims to fame (for example they have the world’s largest collection of sea horses).
Thanks to the University of Waterloo’s Harding/Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences award for their support.
READing the sky
Terry and I flew to Edmonton on January 2nd and spent a surprisingly warm week installing my show, giving a workshop on using screen-printing as a resist for indigo dyes, participating in studio visits with SNAP members, and giving two artist talks. Albertans really are a friendly bunch—special thanks to April, Morgan, Amanda and Sean for making us feel so welcome, as well as the people from Elm Cafe for making such delicious sandwiches. For all of you printmakers out there; check out SNAP! It's a great place to show and work. http://www.snapartists.com/gallery/
Three cheers to the Ontario Arts Council for an exhibition assistance grant in support of this show.
PRINTOPOLIS Reviewed For the National gallery of canada!
A nice start to the new year and my sabbatical—not too shabby. The book is also in their bookstore.
Ox-BoW, School of Art & Artists' Residency
In August, Terry and I spent an amazing two weeks as part Ox-Bow's Faculty Residency. Too many highlights to capture everything, but we made a short documentary in honour of our stay. http://www.ox-bow.org/
God Love brigus II
The second iteration of God Love Brigus opened last week at Calgary's Alberta Printmakers. Terry and I had great time, especially getting to know Carrie Phillips Kieser the Executive Director of the printshop. This time I took a more bookish approach, incorporating swaths of book-cloth on a table jam-packed with objects, ceramics, drawings and text.
Tracy Wormsbecker also wrote a thoughtful essay that illuminates some of the narratives: http://media.wix.com/ugd/76a681_bb0c4629248e463bacffd42185472eab.pdf.
Jenn Law and I have have been working on an epic project for the past 5 years—a 300-page survey of contemporary printmaking in Canada called Printopolis. The book launches on Friday November 25th at Open Studio in Toronto at 6:30pm; drop by for a peek and if your feeling flush, pick up a copy! Here's a blog post about the book: