Kinship Collage (in-process)
This is a personal and collaborative research-creation project that explores the intricacies, pleasures and responsibilities of being relative. Through portraiture, story-telling and conversation I am exploring 'being' as an amalgamation of various forms of 'others', with a focus on particular women, land, and substances. Themes underlying this work include: perceptions and experiences of relatedness and relationality, death and dying, roses, fire, and dreaming.
This is an ongoing, forever incomplete project that began many years ago out of a fear of and fascination with death and dying. Growing up in a family that does not follow predominant perceptions of medicalized or physical death as something final, I approach this project as a means of working through the sense of loss that accompanies physical death, while also exploring connection beyond the body. Through this practice, I intend to (re)turn my sense and attention to the dispersal of Spirit and interconnection of our related forms.
I invite my collaborators to contribute to a patchwork identification of being
with portraits and stories.
"God was a frightful figure to me, as a small girl. Although my mother eagerly sought to Catholicize us kids, as had been done to her in residential school, I never wanted to meet or know God. At least, not the God that was described to me. I used to dream about God taking me away in the night. It was terrifying. In the dream I would be asleep, peacefully, on the bluffs in a tent--I loved it there, above the water on the three bays. But in this dream, while asleep in a tent on the ridge, a looming dark figure would fly over the sky, swoop down, scoop me up and carry me away tent and all. It was so scary. No, I don't really want to meet that God. Even now I much prefer the Mother Creator that I am accustomed to know and revere."
Our dreams are so much more than "dreams". Our dreams are what bind us, in spirit and intention, to each other and to worlds we do not perceive. Dreaming is a sacred practice, it is a way to stay in touch with each other, with ourselves, and with Spirit.
Mickey, Nana, Bunny
Me: "Did I ever know aunty Roxy?"
Nana: "She never met you. But she did meet Andrea. She loved Andrea very much. She loves you too. you know"
Me: "It's so weird because even though I never knew her, I feel like I do. Or that I did. I guess I've heard so much about her that it's like I knew her."
Bunny arrives from Ernie's
Bunny: "I've been thinking about Roxy a lot day today."
Nana: "Me too. I'm really missing her lately."
Mickey arrives home from work
Mickey: "I had a dream about Roxy last night. It's been a while since she last visited, it was so nice to see her!"
Me: "Ha. I guess aunty Roxy is nearby. She's on everyone's mind"
Bunny: "Yeah, I'll say."
Nana: "No fair! She hasn't visited me in weeks! But I guess I'll be seeing her soon..."
Mickey grins (gloatingly that Roxy visited her and not others)
Bunny: "Mom stop! Mickey, get outta here!"
"My elders say that the dream world is a reality, just as vivid, just as vibrant, just as alive as the physical world. Dreams are not illusory things. They are meant to teach us, guide us. They ask us to use our intuition to interpret them. That's their biggest gift--returning us to our intuition, our highest level of thought."
- Richard Wagamese 2016
Auntie Bunny is a gentle, kind soul. Maybe that's why I started calling her auntie bunny instead of Robin when I was a child. Even though we don't spend much time talking, I have always felt deeply connected with this strong woman and grateful for knowing her. She is sensitive and artistic, and has a calming presence. I think I have inherited these qualities from her. She has three powerful and successful children who are more siblings than cousins to me.
I remember her flowing white dress with green apples on it, and the Pölsa she would make when we were all together. And I remember playing Bingo, often, with my mom, auntie Bunny, Nana, and Peter. Auntie Bunny always seemed to win. She had all the horse-shoes, my mom said. She is also known to find four leaf clovers, just by spotting them while walking by or sitting in the yard. One time, while in Hawaii, she got swept away by a wave. It was unfortunate and hilarious. She was fine, but her plane ticket home wasn't.
My favorite memory is a continuous one, just hanging out and laughing together at the family home in shíshálh (Sechelt).