UBC Bookstore, Be a Knit Activist

International Women’s Day Talk

Events

Knitting and activism go hand-in-hand.

On International Women’s Day, I will be speaking on the topic of feminism, art and activism.

Be Bold for Change
March 8, 2017, 5 pm
UBC Bookstore, The University of British Columbia
Book signing to follow

Prior to my talk, the bookstore will host knitting lessons. I encourage knitters (or knitters in the making) to craft while I talk.

Find out more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/139446109907260

If you are in the area drop by, knit some stitches, and say hello!

 

 

Common Threads, An Eco-Art Book by Sharon Kallis

Books

Sharon Kallis Common Threads

I recently received a copy of Sharon Kallis’ Common Threads (New Society Publishers*), a new book on creating community-based eco art installations. Focusing on empowering readers to rethink landscape art and its purpose, this book is a study in how we have traditionally used park land and green spaces, and provides suggestion for new ways to think about  ‘greening’ the landscape.

Sharon Kallis Mothers Dresses

Sharon Kallis’ Mothers Dresses. Final Resting Place of Kells, Kilkenny Ireland. Magnolia left skeletons, organza. Image from Sharon Kallis’ website.

Common Threads uses Kallis’ projects as an eco-artist as a starting point. It details her collaborative projects with urban residents throughout city parks, many of them here in Vancouver. In these eco-works, Kallis reuses what we traditionally consider waste – hair clippings, animal fur, organic debris, and fallen waste.

One of my favourite parts of the book is how she details her work with invasive species such as yellow iris or blackberries, which are typically ripped from the landscape, which she has braided together into artwork which will eventually break down, turning into mulch for other plants.

Sharon Kallis Ivy Boat

Sharon Kallis Ivy Boat

Full of interviews with artists, landscape designers, basket bombers, urban flax growers, graveyard celebrations, and community activists – there is a lot of inspiration here. Detailing how one might build their team with eco-interventionists of researchers, artists, connectors , and municipal champions, Common Threads also contains a whole section that outlines the basic techniques a burgeoning eco-warrior might need, such as simple weaving and braiding. And, there are also health cautions for working with poisonous plants, and suggestions for dealing different types of weeds. It is smartly put together.

While most of the book is in black and white, I’m glad that the publisher did include one section of coloured photographs of the works, as these are the images that truly do the artwork justice. If I could make one criticism, it would be that I wish that the entire book could have been printed in colour because the projects are truly beautiful and the book is photo-heavy.

Sharon Kallis, with community. Ephemeral Mosaic.

Ephemeral Mosaic. Made of salvaged flowers post day of the dead festival made by community members (year unknown)

Common Threads is a good primer to eco-art and the inherently political nature of making art with the land with our current environment. With an eye to impermanence in art as a way to dissolve barriers among people and make a statement, Kallis asks in her introduction, “How do we produce, consume and relate to the things we use in our daily lives? How can we be enriched both personally and as a community when we shift our thinking to allow the time for, once again, making for ourselves?

This book provides many compelling reasons as to why we should make collaborative art in an era of excess. I’d highly recommend curling up with it on your next quiet Saturday afternoon.

*Full disclosure: Sharon’s publicist sent this book to me free of charge but I was not paid for this review. 

West Coast Book Tour Finale: Portland, Seattle & Vancouver

Books

Kim, Betsy, and I wrapped up the West Coast portion of our Make Your Voice Heard tri-author book tour on Tuesday night. I’ve been resting, repacking, and recalibrating every since. It was my intention to write about Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver separately but we didn’t have many moments of rest in the last two cities – that, and I have to say that my head is bursting with new project ideas…so many new ideas, no time right now to execute any of them …

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We began our trip in PDX with the classic Portland Airport shoe-fie photo. Guess who is who?

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We had a number of gracious hosts in Portland – including Kari, Isaac, and Shana (who so willingly put two strangers up in her house!). After an evening of hanging out and eating at the newest food cart pod Tidbit Food Farm and Garden, we had a jam-packed day of events. Isaac and Maker’s Nation hosted our workshop Make, Mend and Reflect at an amazing co-working space called Tillamook Station as part of Portland Design Week. As part of the workshop, we all made ugly creatures under Kim’s guidance. Guess which one is mine?

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Ugly creatures group shot! View on Instagram

Lisa Walker England, one of the workshop participants, wrote a blog post on the workshop (thanks for the mention Lisa!) and something I said during the writing/story-telling session even made it onto a Portland Design Week Flag! Betsy followed with a calming session of stitching, mediating, and reflecting.

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Pics from Make, Mend, Reflect Workshop at Tillamook Station in Portland. #latergram

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After Tillamook Station, there was a quick stop for drinks with some friends in the design field, and then it was off to Powell’s City of Books for a panel hosted by designer/illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt. Yes, we did kind of geek out about being at Powell’s. The staff was really nice, not only did they give us a room to chill out in, they even let us sign their visiting author book. We felt very official.

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Our panel at Powells tonight. #latergram

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I go to Portland at least once a year, but I have to say that this trip was really incredible – Design Week had a exciting vibe and it was so good to meet up with people who are doing their own design side projects – such as Melissa (Portland Designers in the Madmen Era) and Mike (A Ziggy Stardust Show). I’ve decided to clear my schedule for design week next year and attend the full week of events. After two whirlwind days in Portland, it was off to Seattle where we met Haley and Kate, who work for Kim’s publisher Sasquatch Books and Chelsey, the promotional wunderkind who set up our tour. Marlo Miyashiro was a wonderful moderator for a discussion that became my favourite of the entire tour! We traced how we each got into craft and writing books, and I got to ruminate over the future of craft publishing (which, trust me, is something that I can talk about for HOURS). And then, we got to go out for grilled cheese sandwiches and bourbon. Seattle knows how to live.

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.@craftivista matched the party decor that Kate & Haley of @sasquatchbooks brought to our Seattle launch. #latergram View on Instagram

After 24 hours in the Emerald City, we were on the Bolt Bus to Vancouver, BC (home for Kim and I). It was only Betsy’s second time in the city, and while I’d hope to show her more but the inside of my apartment and thai food on Main Street was as far as we got before our last event at Hot Art, Wet City – a wonderful little gallery that I think everyone should know about. Naturally, some of my favourite people showed up….

Thanks to everyone who came out through San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver to celebrate with us! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. Tomorrow we fly out bright and early to Toronto, so my next blog post will detail some East Coast adventures – hopefully not all of them in one post! For the details of our East Coast schedule, check out my events page. We’ll be in Toronto, Philly, Boston, Brooklyn, and DC – and we’ll be teaching one last Make, Mend, Reflect workshop at Makeshift Brooklyn (tickets still available!).