Thursday, October 8, 2015

Once upon a time

There was a time, three or four years ago, when I didn't think I could keep going in my day job. It was really, really hard - the most pressure I've ever faced, the most responsibility I'd ever had - and I was dealing with things I had no experience with. Yup, I'll admit that. And I am so grateful when my colleagues aren't afraid to say what they don't know, too. 


It must have been early March, after a particularly draining event, when I went outside to clear my head and breathe. I stood where this picture was taken. The lake was brown and choppy and crashing against this wall. It was aggressive and threatening. I thought, "I don't know if I can do this." There may have been a few tears.

The lake kept crashing forward at me. But the chaos was predictable. I could trust it. 

Then I realized, "I can do this. I am doing it already."

And I've never doubted my ability in my job since then. Yes, I've struggled with aspects of it. But because the painful process of learning and growing became something I could trust and even rely on to move me forward, I never wanted to give up on it again. 

How do you know you've reached your capacity for learning or being creative or successfully executing a project or job unless you test it under pressure? I hope mine is expansive and deep as a lake. It is getting bigger every day.  

But damn if a girl could get a break for once....wouldn't that be nice!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Emily DiCarlo: Between You and Me

Here's the Curators' Network Canada project I've been teasing in previous posts:

I always swear off doing a Nuit Blanche project and yet here it is - the third one in as many years. Working with Emily DiCarlo has been a privilege and an inspiration. She is a gifted artist/curator creating work that has a subtle but compelling intelligence, work that deserves more recognition at home than it currently receives. She is so driven and productive with her practice (even if it means managing multiple exhibition projects at once, organizing festivals, and being part of a collective while working the old 9 to 5) that watching her has made me start kicking my ass to get my own work done. 

It was well worth the effort to be part of Nuit Blanche again this year. I am really looking forward to this show. 

Practice debris

Apparently writing cranky blog posts about not putting enough time into my own work got the inertia out of my system, and I have started being productive. For myself. I'm still clocking in at 12 hours a day on day job/side projects/volunteering, and I'm tired as all hell. But my frustration at having zero personal output in comparison to all that I am clearly capable of accomplishing for others was exactly the lit match I was waiting to be dropped under my ass. I submitted a drawing to a colouring book project. I made a face wreath tonight out of wilting anniversary flowers. And I picked up supplies for an art party that I'm hosting in a park on Sunday. Everything hurts. I could have fallen asleep an hour ago. But I wanted to be working. I wanted to be making. I don't want to feel frustrated any more. 

"I'll sleep when I'm dead" is something that comes to mind at busy times like these. But also a story of my great-great grandmother in the Ukraine, who died and was buried. Then as her grave was being robbed, she woke up, scared the shit out of the robbers, got herself out, and walked back home. 

And yes, this is a photo of floral-related debris on top of a washing machine. It just happened to be the most comfortable and convenient place to work this time.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Unpaid hours

The following schedule is made up of a few simple blocks of time, chunked out based on where I was, physically doing some sort of work. They don't capture the layers of detail embedded in carrying out this work: the hours upon hours spent on emails and phone calls, the hundreds of kilometres driving from place to place to buy supplies or to attend meetings, the time spent thinking about how to solve problems... These blocks don't account for the time spent with loved ones because that is rarely acknowledged in professional life....

I am posting it because I am trying to take stock of how my time is spent and why I continue to be unproductive in my independent practice.

Holiday/sleep/sick/don't remember 


8:00am-6:00pm: work

7:00pm-9:00pm: Curators' Network meeting


8:30am-6:30pm: work

7:00pm-11:30pm: cdnpoli strat meeting/prep


8:30am-5:30pm: work

5:30pm-11:00pm: at cdnpoli event I organized 


9:00am-6:30pm: work

6:30pm-7:30pm: prep for cdnpoli event 

7:30pm-9:30pm: work


8:30am-3:30pm: prep/at cdnpoli event I organized 

9:00pm-9:30pm: work pick up

9:30pm-11:00pm: gallery opening 


day of rest/guilt/dngaf

Well. I'm certainly not the only one in such a situation. The idea of juggling multiple projects and working long hours to realize the things that are most important to you and your creative practice is not new. I seem to recall now an exhibition named Night Shift that featured the work of artists who worked as assistants to their established counterparts during the day, thereby leaving them only scraps of time left to pursue their own practice. One friend was resentful of this concept and didn't want their work defined in relation to "a big name" and wanted to keep their practices, and accomplishments, separate. I spent a few minutes googling for it but obviously it's not a unique concept for the arts, so exactly what I am referencing is proving difficult to dig up. 

I am also thinking about a talk presented by Marysia Lewandowska a few years ago at Prefix (you can watch it here in which, during the q&a maybe, she advocated for a diversied revenue stream for arts workers - selling work, teaching, consulting, getting grants, being flexible, flying all over - that was how you could support yourself in such a precarious field: lots of work! But now I want to think of the films of Polish workers she spoke about as being contextualized as a form of resistance - that our time which we think of as "free" actually is not, it has value and worth, and how we choose to use those unpaid hours can be a form of resistance against a capitalist system. I have to watch her lecture again - these vague recollections are shadows of her ideas shared in Toronto four years ago.... Prefix has the best artist talks... 


What is important to note here is that, while all these endeavours I am pursuing are intellectually and professionally fulfilling, there are four key takeaways from these blocks of time:

1. Almost every day that I worked, I worked a solid 12 or more hours.  That is a 60 hour work week. I am only paid for 35, and that is solely from my employer. My overtime hours will be taken in lieu time upon approval. 

2. Productivity/economic vitality/democratic life cannot be based merely on wage-based work or monetary transactions as many creative and political work hours are unpaid. Unpaid work has value. Unpaid work is a form of resistance and the upholding of an ideal... (Also possibly only available to those who are privileged)

3. The impact of this work has been both beneficial to my intellectual development, but causes extreme depletion of my physical strength and leaves me exhausted. 

4. Exactly zero hours were spent on my independent practice. 

If I can spend mind boggling amounts of time doing work for others, when "free" time finally becomes available, why don't I use it for myself? Why do I place more value in what others pursue? Why don't I value my own work as much as someone else's? Why do I continue to support the ideas of others before my own? Why do I respond better to the demands of someone else rather than the demands I make of myself? What am I really contributing? What am I afraid of?

Friday, July 31, 2015


From radicalemprints:

"there is so much work to be done. sometimes we need reminders, exhortations, calls to action, or bits of fierce poetics to carry us forward. this is letterpress printing to power the revolution."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I looked at my arm today and couldn't tell if it was covered in paint from summer camp or blood.

What more can I say? 

"Time to shower. And do it all over again tomorrow."

Here is a to do list that I have really been wanting to tackle and longggg assss work weeks make most of this almost impossible:

1. Finish writing and illustrating "Bad Ideas" for a Pittsburgh zine I'm contributing to

2. Launch "Mobile Art Party" at parks here in Weston and at Artscape Youngplace 

3. Organize another Curatorial Hardware event

4. Keep making progress on Emily DiCarlo's "Set Together" exhibition for Nuit Blanche 

5. Don't get another cold again you were just sick last month omgggggg

6. Email eight zillion people

7. Read all the things. 

8. Wash this gunk off 

9. Get a haircut you damn hippie

10. Learn how cell division works and multiply myself so the clones can get it done 

11. Never admit defeat

At camp today a kid was super upset and I really couldn't blame him. He's allowed to be sad. That's ok. But I wanted to try to get him to feel a bit better. It went a little bit like:

"Don't smile. Nope. Don't do it! Don't. Don't smile! You're not allowed. It's not okay to laugh. No. You better stop! Don't smile! No smiling!"

Reverse psychology is pretty great. He smiled. A lot. 

I am fortunate and privileged, so privileged. I know that. But I am learning something new about it now: Even when I feel like shit, and I'm not doing enough of all the other things I want to be doing, I still have to stand back and smile at it all. I said I would never complain if I got into this 9-5 position. So I don't care if it's paint or blood. I am crazy about this gig. 

Do I sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow? Do I need to fuck off?

How about:

"Erase the list. Don't do it. Don't make art. Just don't. Stop. You're not allowed. Nope. No art! Bad! Quit it. I am warning you."

Now go.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Three years and no updates?


And the links to my photos and videos are broken and what's here looks like total crap???


At least has a pretty good log of what I've been up to.

Life gets bumpy. The last post was saying goodbye to my brother when he left for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The blog wasn't a priority at all after that. I wanted to post some back and forths of Sylvester Stallone videos we shared with each other while he was away, but that was short lived. Not all ideas work out, and for too long I've let that stop me from accomplishing anything at all. Anyway. He's living it up in Australia working on an apple farm and practicing Muay Thai, so back to the blog I go. To tie up the loose ends. I have been really feeling that lately - the need to tie up loose ends. Pay back my debts. Find some freedom from my worries.

This blog maybe will become a priority again (how many times have I said that) if I want a proper professional internet presence, to be leveraged into some kind of career building tool..? Right?? That's motivation, isn't it? Ha, maybe I should be switching over to Tumblr. The point is, GET OUT THERE BE SEEN DON'T LET ANYONE FORGET ABOUT YOU AND EVERYTHING WILL BE JUST SUPER AWESOME.

Ehhhhh. I resent that. Motivated because of what it may do for my career. I mean, "I'd rather not" and all that. But then, the fear of failure gets the anxiety churning. So do I do this for myself? Purely because I need to share my ideas, read over them, see how they develop. I love Montaigne's dissatisfaction with writing essays - keeping them by his bed, making changes in the margins, never being finished, the idea always incomplete - open to being something more. Either I'll develop a real affection for putting my uncertain words online, and get comfortable with publicly sharing my discomfort, or I'll pull the classic anxiety move and avoid this for another three years.

A friend, Timothy Comeau, talked me into not deleting this thing. Keep it for internet posterity. A record for those who may go looking for me or my words one day. So here it stands, in all its cringey glory. Thanks a lot, Timothy. Thanks a lot, Robyn, too, for stealing my phone and forcing me to focus on doing this instead of distracting myself further into oblivion.

Blahh blah blah. I never liked keeping a journal. But the thing is this: more and more I miss my grandparents, and genuinely and painfully long for them to be here again. And more and more I wish they had left something like this behind. So, as I tried to use this to be closer to my brother, here I am now, trying to get close to something again. There's the motivation.

Some career-related highlights from the last three years:

Becoming Education Officer at Oakville Galleries in 2012

Co-founding the Curators' Network Canada with Katherine Dennis and Earl Miller in 2013

Performing Art Manners for Practice Practice at Nuit Blanche in 2013, curated by Alice Dixon

Selling my zines, Swoon Saloon and Pussy Power, and gilded lily incense burners at the Xpace Zine Fair in 2013

Doing Face Painting by Artists at the Design Exchange with Sarah Febbraro, at Emily Gove's invitation

Curating Melina Sevilla's PiƱatas for Nuit Blanche as part of Out of Site, curated by Earl Miller for the Queen West BIA in 2014

Going to Stronger than Stone: (Re)inventing the Indigenous Monument through a bursary from the Canadian Museums Association and support from Oakville Galleries in 2014

Joining the Akin Collective in 2015

Reviving my blog from the dead in 2015

That wasn't so bad after all