meLand started

 

meLand 

a physical and 

metaphoric space 

where I could 

simultaneously explore

porosity

and 

disrupt the 
socially constructed binary 

between humans and nature.

 

 

With many of the blocking discourses out of the way, and the practice (and confidence) I had acquired in allowing thoughts to "blossom out of my limbs" (Abram, in Abram & Jardine, 2000, p. 186) in my smaller collages, I began the largest artwork in this dissertation: meLand. My intention in this piece was to explore the porosity between me and Land (which I later refer to as animate Earth) primarily through attention to food.

 

I followed the lead of my body as I gathered and collaged together grains from my garden and used the dehydrator to dry vegetables and herbs from my summer garden. Bits of the sea were added in the form of dulse, nori and sea lettuce, mailed as a gift from my mom in Nova Scotia. I added acrylic paint, fabric, cardboard, some tissue paper and some bits of foam wrapping to offer colour and texture.    Although I was not explicitly aware of it at the time, I was drawing on some of the techniques I was introduced to in the workshop I took with Lisa Lipsett (2005) several months before. Advice from a friend, as well as a collage workshop by a professional artist helped with materials, but when it came to actually doing the work, I felt, rather than thought my way through the piece. Although I had some sense of creating an image of hills with a human body embedded within it, generally, I had very little idea of what my right hand was producing. Two vignettes illustrate this process of 'following my hands' well:

Creating the hills: One evening I found myself digging through the recycle bin to pull out some thick pieces of cardboard. For several days, they lay, unused on my office floor. Then, one evening, in the midst of painting, I felt drawn to the cardboard. I picked up the scissors, and followed my hands until the hills were born. The building process took three more sessions of cutting and collaging, adding layers of cardboard. But by this time, I trusted my body's knowing. 

Creating the body: I knew that I wanted to have some kind of outline of the human body in meLand, but that I wanted her boundaries to be porous, open to the energy flow between her and land. As friends watch the project grow, they often found human curves within the hills. Still unsure about how the human form would emerge, I asked my friend to help me with some possible outlines for a silhouette. Even after all the practice I had had following my body, I did not trust my own to create a recognizable human outline. For several weeks I moved the template around the collage, eyeballing it to see where the shape should be placed. Still, though, I had come to no clear conclusion on where or how I would integrate this human form into the emerging work.


One evening, as I was collaging, my hand was drawn to the sea

lettuce my Mom had mailed me from Nova Scotia. After a few 'blobs' made their way onto the collage, I realized the human outline was begun. For the rest of the evening, I followed the lines created by my hand, palette knife, sea lettuce, and the vague outline I had created with my friend's template. This was the only actual drawing I did on the collage, but it was my hand, not my mind, or eye, that determined where she was to go, and when she was to take form.