Thursday 15 December 2016

Alicia Kathrine Hunt: Home

Tell me about the installation process. Was the hanging of Home conceived of specifically for the AGA gallery space?

I enjoy hanging installation work because the space the pieces occupy and the space around them is vital. Instead of allowing a clean amount of wallspace around each two-dimensional work for example, every part of the room is important to installation work, both the positive and negative space. My hanging process was rather fun. I had been working on a large number of new pieces in my attic studio space. I brought these pieces into the gallery space and played with different configurations on the floor before beginning to test things out by hanging. It really was a layered process, adding and taking away. One large piece from the beginning felt right at home off to the left, and so the rest of the pieces ended up answering the question... how did they all work together to create one alive space. 

Do the forms in Home relate to topographical maps, patchwork spaces, and the view of agricultural fields from a plane?

There is certainly a topographical element to this work. The mark making, dying, sewing all suggest topography, whether physical or pertaining to our internal landscapes. When this suggestion of mapmaking first appeared, it was not intentional, but it's certainly something that furthers the themes I am exploring. I had not thought of my work before as suggesting agricultural fields, but I like that! 

How does working with dirt and cloth engage your sense memory, and/or your instincts in a way painting doesn't?

Though I have always enjoyed the smoothness of paint and think I will continue to return to it from time to time, the mediums I used in Home feel more real in their physicality and tactility. Instead of using a brush to move paint, I interact with the fabric much more closely. The materials each carry their own weight and history. I like that my interaction with these mediums is perhaps more of continuing a story versus creating something entirely new.

What are some future goals, in your career/ life as an artist?
To encourage others to think critically, but perhaps more than that to dwell in experience a little more, to see more vividly through another language by the experience that art can give, and to encourage community building.  I would like to continue to have exhibitions from time to time as a means to share my work. I'd also like to pursue more collaborations with other visual artists, and other art forms. I am currently looking into artist residencies and masters of fine art programs.


What are some wishes for the Soo, things you'd like to see happening around here?

I've been delighted by the sense of community that is growing in this city, more focus on local food, I'd love to see this continue to grow.

Artist's statement prepared for the Exhibition:

This body of work surrounds themes of home, belonging, and displacement. Many of the pieces have a map-like, patchwork quality. The use of predominantly natural and salvaged materials represents concepts of place and community.

I start by gathering old pieces of fabric, cast off clothing, and other components like twine, and partially used spools of thread. This gleaning is part of the early process. I then interact with these gathered materials through applying beeswax, ink, graphite and colour. A phase of dying as well as tearing, reassembling, and stitching follows. The salvaged fabric has its own history, allowing the garments to speak of both human construction and presence.

Exploring place is significant to these pieces and informs the already topographical quality of my work. I have gathered rubbings in the Algoma region which imprints an element of the history, narrative, and presence that is within the earth onto the fabric. The times that I feel nearest to the earth consist of more than meeting a place strictly through my vision, but greatly through the tactility, sound, and presence within a place. There is a great oneness in the concepts of place and being.

There is tactility and malleability to both beeswax and hand stitching. Beeswax is a raw, alive substance, and has long been a sign of healing. The purpose of beeswax in the hive is to create a shelter for un-hatched eggs and for food. This beeswax has nurtured life and gives its own narrative of place to the work. The use of beeswax in encaustic painting is an ancient technique used to create early religious icons. The repeated marks found in the icons, hand stitching, and maps connect individuals to the land, other people and history.
The twine creates visual lines of connection as they cross one another and also speak of community. The strings encourage furthering these now permeable boundaries of the pieces.

These fabric works, that appear to breathe, seem vulnerable and fragile but in reality are quite sturdy. In this, there are elements of unity and strength that impart a comfort which is needed to develop a sense of home.
Throughout this series, it has been fascinating to hear stories of many people’s experiences and interpretation of what homeis. For some, it is very place based, and for others solely relationship based. It can be a current reality, and for others something longed for. 

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