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Arrival

My Roots: Arrival / 120 film / 30 second exposure

On January 1st I turn 36. It is a significant year for me as it is my “equalizing” year–it is the year that means I have lived away from “home” as long as I had lived at “home.”

I left my family at 18, bought a one way ticket to Scotland, and went to the Highlands to become a nun. As a back-up plan I bought camping equipment and thought I would live off that until I figured out my next move.

I did not make a good nun. I didn’t even make a good hiker. I crash landed in Manitoba in 2004 and stumbled though my 20s.

Arrival trunk

Another important thing that happens in my 36th year is that it becomes the year where my rate of moving average drops. Currently I sit at 35 moves, but come January first, I will average less than one move a year.

I’m getting all rooty.

Something I have noticed about living in a space for a relatively long time, like, over a year, is that you can unpack. There is time to organize your space. And something I noticed a few months ago after unpacking the last box, is that my brain feels more organized. Almost like moving is disruptive to your external life and your internal life.

The Archives

I think it is these thoughts and realizations that have culminated in my decision to devote the next year of my art to exploring my personal narrative. I have a lot of shit to cover.

I thought I could make my work about cool things like chaos theory, or environmental extinction and the emergence of new ways of adapting…but no. My personal narrative keeps coming up and I think that if I don’t get to it, then it will eventually overwhelm my work and come out anyway.

Time to dive.

2021 is a big year for me.

I will hold my breath and plunge in head first.

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Art Photography

A gallery is a ditch is an alleyway

As COVID continues to disrupt the already extreme isolation that being a rural Manitoba artist affords me, my mind has kicked into creative overdrive to to find ways to exhibit, stay local, and keep pushing my practice. I think I found a weird little path to pursue.

If you’re not familiar with rural Manitoba, saying we “lack gallery space” is an understatement.

Unless the ditches and alleys functioned as artist run public gallery spaces. Then we would have miles and miles of gallery spaces.

I’ve been thinking… If 4 people in Giroux see an installation in a ditch that is 4% of the population of that community. That is the percentage equivalent of a Winnipeg audience of 30,000. If 5 people in Mitchell see my work in the back-lane the percentage equivalent of a Winnipeg audience is about 1,500.

4 is an incredible audience out here.

I’ve been thinking… If a gallery is a space for viewing art what isn’t a gallery?

If there is space and there is viewing it is a gallery.

Why not?

I’ve been thinking…. about “exhibits.” What is an exhibit? Reduced to its most basic function, the act of displaying.

If there is work on display it is an exhibit.

I’ve been thinking… a ditch is a gallery, and my work is on display in it.

A gallery is a ditch is an alleyway // An exhibit of works by Alexandra Ross // On view until snow or vandalism end it

“Allie”
Mannequin, found structures, ditch flowers, grass
Rd 37E, Giroux, MB
49.5429848, -96.6164786

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Activism Art Photography

In dandelions I trust

Listen to this text.
Winnipeg Urbanwild Garden–Pembinaish

I take a lot of pictures of weeds. Mostly weeds growing in urban settings, but I’m open to all manner of weeds. I am devoting a lot of mental energy to them atm.

Dandelions in particular have taken on a symbolic force in my mind.

Probably because everyone hates them. Well, not everyone. Children and bees love them for their beautiful flowers whimsical wish granting abilities (children for the later, but maybe bees? naaa, they are too busy dancing to make wishes.); they have more nutrients than spinach and their roots are medicinal; and yet adults hate them: we wage a chemical war against them, judge people based on the amount in their lawn and will even report you to authorities if the number exceeds some invisible tolerance line.

Somewhere I read that dandelions take over because they grow in impoverished soil.

Dandelions and comrades taking over impoverished soil in Steinbach–Brantish

When I hear “impoverished soil” I think mostly of grass, but also mono-culture and “developed” spaces. The intersection of earth and capital.

In other words after capitalist interests have exploited all the microbes and chemically burned off any residue from the nutrient rhizome layer of roots, dandelions grow down deep and begin making new soil.

So, basically, dandelions and all their weedy comrades are fighting against environmental degradation brought on by capitalist greed.

What a thing.

When I am hopeful for the future it is because dandelions. Damn right I honor them and all rebel weeds in my art.

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Unofficial Honors Welcome

Preamble

Photo Credit: Elliot, first year preschooler

Four years ago things were looking up, so far up. Obama was still president; I was excited that we Americans would likely see our first woman president;  I was trundling off to a semester of art school followed by two years of teacher school, to become a dependable, respectable, contributing human in this world and to devote the majority of my time to teaching art to adorable children. 

Ha, four years ago. What an age has gone by.

The Obama days are so long gone, and no, we did not elect Hilary, in case you didn’t notice. I am definitely not a “contributing human,” and instead of choosing the respectable stability of a school teacher I am now a certified artist and work three different non-art jobs while I begin the task of “emerging” my own art practice amidst a pandemic. 

nbd

I did not go for my BFA Honours. While completing the honours year would have theoretically  helped me craft a well thought out artist statement and graduate with a body of work, I opted out of my honours year–I thought going back to school for a second BA in my 30’s was extravagant enough and it was time to reintroduce myself to my husband and friends.

In lieu of that honours year, I am going to hash out my process and ideas here here on my blog over the next academic year.  I know myself enough to know that left alone I will quickly melt into a hyperactive ball of chaos and accomplish a lot of very little, so I am setting some direction to my creative energy.  

Speaking of chaos…

Here is what I know so far about my practice. I am a little obsessed with the theme of order and chaos, and more specifically, the edge between them where you find the weird, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes beautiful emergence of new forms. I love Dadaists, and specifically Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.  And yes, I think Duchamp ran with her idea and now gets all the credit for the first conceptual piece of art. Oh, and I reeeeeallllyyyy like multimedia installations.  Ann Hamilton is another hero of mine. Just think about it! She left UCLA to live in Ohio.  She makes me believe that I can be a contemporary artist based in Mitchell, Manitoba.  Also, she has pigeons and choirs as part of her work. What is not to love?

So that is my starting point. 

That is, in fact, where four years of art school left me. 

I look forward to where this road takes me, even if it’s four more years of… dare I say it? I can’t. no, it won’t happen again, surely! Ugh, I’m still bummed that Bernie dropped out.