Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises: The Making of “In Conversation”

Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises exhibition, Feb 2020

Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises exhibition, Feb 2020

We live in a culture where consumption and waste are common habits. Plastic seems to be everywhere, and while it is useful we need to recognize the effects it has on environment and life our everyday lifIn Conversation (Red) and In Conversation (Green) are two soft sculptures, crocheted using recycled and repurposed shopping bags. Featured earlier in February in the exhibition entitled Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises at The Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, the pieces stand 102” high and approximately 51.5” to 74.8” diameter, each sculpture is self-illuminated and fitted with an electronic brain which scans the surrounding environment. When a viewer is in close proximity, the electronic brain, through its motion sensor, causes the sculpture to come to life.  The lights “dance”, alternating colours (depicting an emotion) for as long as the viewer is nearby. Effectively, the viewer becomes part of the “dialogue” between the sculptures.

Below is a series of photographs documenting the process of their creation – from prototype to final form.

It took around 4 months to construct In Conversation (Red) and In Conversation (Green). During this time I’ve experienced a range of emotions – from excitement to anxiety and then finally a sense of calm. And so these emotions have also been embodied within these sculptures.

Once the sculptures were completed, the transformation of the throw-away bags gave them a new life, taking them out of the context of mundane everyday objects we all take for granted. The process forever changed my approach and relationship to this material.

Nesting, November 2019

Cocoon, January 2019

With a heavy heart, October 2019

Illumination, February 2020

Babel, February 2020

In Conversation- at rest (Green), February 2020

In Conversation (Green), February 2020

Wild Imperfections at S. Walter Stewart Library, July 4-30 , 2019

Thanks to everyone who showed their support for Women’s Art Project (WAP), art exhibition Wild Imperfections at S. Walter Stewart Public Library. Works from the exhibition are now posted to the Paintings gallery. Here are some photos of the show just after set-up.

 

Wild Imperfections

The Story of the Sun and the Moon: An Inspiration

Celestial Dance - by Michelle Montague

Celestial Dance, May 22, 2017, 39″x 63 1/2″, acrylic, ink, oil sticks on canvas

“Tell me the story about how the Sun loved the Moon so much he died every night to let her breathe.”

The quote itself have inspired, writers, poets and artists alike. Though the quote’s cultural origin is unknown, many believe its roots come from an earlier folk-tale Why The Sun Chases the Moon. However, there are several Sun and Moon mythologies around the world which may have inspired the quote as well. Whether depicted as lovers, siblings or mother and son, each cultural myth offers its own explanation of how the celestial bodies depend on each other for life, which would otherwise not exist.

As part of the 4 Cardinal Points exhibition, my newest work Celestial Dance (shown above) depicts the setting sun and the rising moon. The sun has to die every night so the moon can live, for without the sun there would be no moon. They depend on each other and her death every morning gives him life. It is their bond that gives each other what they want and need.

I’ve included a variation of the story below:

 

“Tell me the story about how the sun loved the moon so much he died every night to let her breathe.”

There once was a moon, as beautiful as can be, only the stars could fathom, but the sun could not see. The sun so radiant, he burns so bright. The moon so luminous, but only showed her face during the night. She was untouchable, surrounding herself with a blanket of darkness. The sun would give anything to catch a glimpse of the Moon illuminating the beautiful night sky.

Until one day when the Sun was sliding out of the heavens, he caught a glimpse of her. She was peeking up, a rare side of her being exposed to the light. And while the Sun could shine, he knew the Moon could glow.

Just as the Stars were wandering into the night, the Sun fell in love like a snowball hurdling down a mountain. How he wished to see her move than the fleeting moments he shared with her at both dawn and dusk. But they were a world apart.

“Go,” she whispered to him one of those nights, her voice as sweet and sorrowful as the last light of morning. “Go and let me breathe, for you and I have decided fates. You illuminate the day, and I cast a glow on the night. We will never be. Our connection would go against what all the people believe, all they know” During the summer he would stay a little longer just in case she would change his mind. It was no use.

“Don’t you dare abandon your blessing of light for my darkness.” And those were the last words the Moon was strong enough to speak to the Sun.

The Sun could feel her peaceful soul and it soon became clear. He would die each and every night to let his true love breathe, for it would put an end to all her misery.

 

 

 

 

Patterns in Nature: My Inspiration

Queen Anne's Lace (Wild Carrot) flower and a snowflake

This Queen Anne’s Lace (Wild Carrot) reminds me of a snowflake.

In my previous post I mentioned that Nature, family and music are often the source of my inspiration. These sources of inspiration are triggered by a specific moment, a memory or a feeling. For example, the sweet smell of pine trees on a dewy morning, or a family of Mallards rhythmically floating on the lake. Or the shadows that trees cast on the ground. Or mismatched buttons on a person’s coat. I think you get the picture… One such spark of inspiration is a memory of my mother whom was taking extra biology courses to upgrade her skills in health care. I was young at the time, maybe 11 but it was something that made an impression on me. She had a series of medical and science textbooks and I remember spending hours repeatedly looking through them, studying each illustration in careful detail. One day my mother pointed to a plant cell diagram in one of her textbooks and asked if I could draw one like it in her notebook. Thinking as children do at that time, it never occurred to me to simply trace the illustration into the notebook (now thinking back it would’ve saved a lot of time!). However, I studied the illustration and carefully drew every detail neatly into her notebook. I was quite proud of that first diagram when completed. I can only guess my mother thought I did a good job. She didn’t say so directly, but I drew several more illustrations for her thereafter, mostly of various plant and animal cells, but also of organs, skeletal and muscular structures. Why am I sharing this story? Well it was that moment, that memory that I discovered my interests in not only the organism itself but the commonalities shared across all living things.

Over the years, I’ve learned all living things share common patterns expressed visually or rhythmically. The patterns are found repeatedly in not only organisms but in other forms such as sound waves, sine waves, and electromagnetic fields etc. Some people may refer to these repeating patterns as Fractals. A Fractal is a never-ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales – a fascinating subject on its own and warrants a separate discussion. However if you’re interested in learning more about Fractals here is a good place to start, but there are plenty of other resources on the web.

What I’m interested in are the natural patterns found in living things and the commonalities that connects us all. My inspirations lie in identifying and expressing elements of these patterns through my artwork. For example in my Sanctum or Organics series, certain lines that repeat mimic the movements of water, wind or a wave in a person’s hair. Whereas the shapes may represent patterns seen in flowers or pine combs. These elements expressed in my paintings are the patterns seen across all life and bind all. Seemingly separate on the surface, all things live and move together as one – Like a field of sunflowers swaying in the wind. The things that connect us are my inspiration and serve as the underpinnings for my work.

Red Oak trees vs. Moon jellyfish

Growth patterns in the branches of the might Red Oak trees are similar to the patterns in the tentacles of the Moon jellyfish.

Looking up above and down below there are natural pattern formations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Works Now Posted

Sanctum – My current body of work is now posted to the Paintings gallery.

Moment Of Bliss,  Acrylic, crochet, oil stick, 38" x 38", March 16, 2014,

Sanctum

Sanctum (January 2014 – March 2015) is an interpretation of patterns found in Nature. In this body of work, I use crochet, acrylic and oil sticks,  to create interlocking gestural lines and arrange shapes and colours. These elements serve as metaphors of our own indivisibility and oneness with Nature.

Organics

Organics (April – September 2013 ) In this series,  I use embroidery, acrylic and oil sticks to explore patterns we may find in Nature and their relationship to the greater world. The combination of overlapping gestural lines creates a world immersed in fantasy, yet arrangement of shapes and colours resembles patterns found in living organisms – the building blocks of Life.  Through this body of work is a continuation of the study of Nature, the life energy and its everlasting process of rejuvenation.