Categories
Photography

I am a casualty of unschooling

I am a casualty of unschooling

“Did you mean homeschooling?” is the usual response I get when I tell people I was unschooled. No, I mean “unschooled.” With the exception of 6 months of private school in Costa Rica, I never went to school before I entered college. My parents believed that institutional education will stifle your intellect and that life will teach you everything you need to know. My sisters and I were taught to read and write, and by grade 4 we were told that we would self educate, and that “life was school.”

I did self educate. And unschooling gave me a robust sense of self in the world.

On the brink of my 11th birthday I knew who I was. I was a gymnast who knew Morse code and hieroglyphics. I was a belly dancer, bangle cat breeder, and pet sitter who could slip cast ceramic molds. I knew the first 11 elements of the periodic table along with the multiplication table up to 10 by heart. I could sing the Ancient Greek alphabet, and could skateboard to and from gymnastics. I vaccinated our cats even though I could not spell vaccine. I knew I was missing subjects but I also knew I belonged to a rarefied class of humans who had very specialized important knowledge that could be helpful to archeologists and radio communication during a war. We did not waste precious time on things regular people did, like cleaning the house, or going to school.

I was unschooled.

Categories
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

Categories
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.