While visiting my parents on one of those precious, warm days last fall, I headed to the garden to pick some kale for a salad. The older leaves had several large insect eaten holes. It occurred to me in that moment that my fascination with skeletal structures in my art practice began in my back yard, growing up as a child and teenager. I recalled a series of photos I took when I was around 18 that isolated these leafy, undulating forms and was reminded that everything is ultimately connected.
It was during this time that I was in the midst of installing my morphogenesis series at The Ritz Carleton Spa Sanctuary. The paper cut leaf forms were strewn over the floor in preparation for the final layout.
Revisiting a forgotten theme, this series took its inspiration from the lacy leaves eaten by Japanese beetles I saw during my artist residence at the Blue Mountain Centre in the Adirondacks. I was struck by the juxtaposition between their fragile beauty and the threat they represented to the area’s eco system. The works, painted with red milk paint became hand cut paper forms scaled to the body where I hoped to evoke a relationship between the inner body, its organs and blood stream and the natural world around, with its own circulatory system of leaves turning golden and red. Kozo paper, while it appears to be delicate, has strong fibres. I thought about our own fragility, emotionally, mentally and physically and also of the powerful and resilient life force within us.
Sitting on a bench in the garden, with the golden sun passing through my favourite apple tree, I ate my raw kale salad. I felt like I was eating my art.
The kale survived the early frost and picked fresh from the earth, its vital energy moved into my blood stream.
The salad has variations depending on what’s available in your fridge. To prepare it, pull the soft leaves from the stem then rip them into bits, add lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. My mom didn’t have parmigiana or walnuts on this day so I used grated jarlsberg and toasted pecans which gave a nice depth of flavour.
My installation at The Ritz Spa in Toronto continues until February 28.