the body

23 March 2012

Yesterday afternoon I met with my supervisor and second examiner for my oral exams, the final stage of the comprehensive examination process for my degree program. When I arrived home, exhausted and all my nerves spent, the latest issue of Acne Paper (Issue no. 13 Spring 2012) on The Body was waiting on my doorstep, the perfect reward for successfully completing this stage of my PhD.

As an art historian who researches intersections among art, medicine, and the body, with a wider interest in the history of the body, contemporary body art, abjection, and theories of embodiment, I was thrilled when Acne Paper released their Spring 2012 issue last week and I learned of the theme. My body literally throbbed with excitement. I am impressed at how quickly my copy arrived from Sweden, and with such appropriate timing! I cannot help but feel like the universe is making a small gesture in my direction when things work out this perfectly and everything seems to converge into one incredibly full moment. It makes everything that you are doing and all the decisions you've made feel so right and validated.

Much to my delight, both the front and back pages feature the work of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), whom I have long respected and admired, providing a richly textured framework for the entire volume. Deeply symbolic and characterized by an experimental approach to materials and techniques, Bourgeois' work engages core themes of femininity, sexuality, childhood, domestic confinement, isolation, and trauma, both directly and indirectly referencing the body and its varied forms. 

 Louise Bourgeois, loose sheet, c.1959.   

Louise Bourgeois, loose sheet, c.1959 (left).
Louise, Bourgeois, The Reticent Child (detail), 2003 (right).

Louise Bourgeois, Knife Figure, 2002.

While so far I have only had the chance to briefly glimpse into the 256-page volume, a number of images and articles (some familiar, some entirely new) have already caught my eye, tantalizing me and beckoning me to engage with them further. I think I will spend the weekend doing just that, although Acne Paper is the kind of timeless publication you can endlessly return to, again and again.

Katerina Jebb, Doll Mouth, 1999.

Kiki Smith, Free Fall, 1994. 

Lillian Bassman, Across the Restaurant, Barbara Mullen, Paris, 1949 (left).
Lillian Bassman, Born to Dance, Margie Cato, New York, 1950 (right).

Lillian Bassman, The Line Lengthens, model unknown, 1955. 

Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, c.1600. The National Gallery, London.
Hanneline Rogeberg, Balzac XI (Claude), Barbara Mullen, 2011 (left).
Hanneline Rogeberg, Thaw, 2009 (right). 

  Bill Durgin, Cyc-9, 2007. 

Bill Durgin, Nude 4, 2009.  

The first three images are my own; the rest are from Acne Paper.

nova lily s+s preview

20 March 2012

Today is the first day of Spring and it's gorgeous outside! To celebrate, I thought I would share a peek into the forthcoming nova lily spring + summer collection, on which I have been hard at work. This particular part of the collection features a (very) limited run of the loveliest vintage hand-painted floral wood beads in seafoam, spring green, and ivory white strung on incredibly soft deerskin leather lace or suede. I wish I had more of these rustic and vibrant spring floral beads, but being restricted by small quantities is part of the joy of working primarily with vintage, deadstock, and repurposed materials. It keeps things fresh and interesting and means that my designs are either one-of-a-kind or limited edition. I think this is part of the magic of handmade, and not something that I am willing to let go of just yet.

I will be starting to update the shop by the end of the month, so please check back, or subscribe to the nova lily mailing list

Happy Spring (or Vernal Equinox)!

emerson fry s/s 2012

19 March 2012

Emerson Fry (formerly EmersonMade) launched their new sping/summer collection last week, and although I am somewhat disappointed by the name change, the look and quality of the designs have remained unmistakably the same. I have always loved Emerson's blend of sophistication and versatility, of modern city style and classic country living, but the new collection truly hits home. The rich fabrics are so dreamy but casual, the colours soft and down-to-earth, the fits both loose and feminine, perfect for summer days and nights, for both work and play. I think Emerson Fry is becoming something of a modern classic, offering women the perfect combination of femininity and practical, boyish charm.

View the entire collection here.

(Air Dots Blouse / White Mod Dress / Paulo Loafer in nude / Four Button Jacket in ivory and The Perfect Raglan Pullover / The Perfect Raglan T, Band Shorts in rose, and The Ankle Strap Heel in nude / U Dress in blue and Toe Patch Slingback in caramel and black calkskin / Light Indigo Ikat Tunic / White Sandwashed Tuxedo Shirt and Band Shorts in ivory)

weekend delights

My neighbourhood Roman Catholic church, Église Saint-Édouard in the borrough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. I love living so close to such a grand church. I find the sound of the bells to be oddly comforting and grounding // La chocolatine (also known as pain au chocolat) is my all-time favourite Montreal pastry. It would not be a stretch to say that I live for the chocolatine. I often eat several a week.

A display of vintage hand wall hooks at Style LABO, an incredible vintage boutique in Montreal's Mile End that features an impressive, carefully curated collection of antique furnishings, objets d'art, and curiosities. It can often be expensive, but some of the finds are so unique and intriguing that they are worth indulging in. I took home one of the smallest hand hooks and am already thinking about creatie ways to put it to use // My Sunday night bedside reading. I picked up the Penguin's "Great Ideas" edition of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own on a whim from Libraire Drawn & Quarterly this weekend, my favourite Montreal independant bookstore. It is such a wonderful read. 

Andrew sent me a few photos of life in Laurentian Valley this weekend as the first signs of Spring emerged (the snow has finally melted!). As everything is slowly coming back to life, the backyard has been overflowing with a variety of species of birds (which has put Hunter into a craze) and he managed to capture snapshots of a few, including one of my favourites, the Morning Dove (left), as well as a Red Wing Black Bird (right). I wish I could spend Spring in the country this year and awake to bird songs and fresh crisp air every morning, but at least I will get to visit in a couple weeks and I will be able to spend the summer there. For now, my mornings are welcomed by pigeons in the back of my Montreal apartment and broken sunrises over the buildings and through the tree tops.

a home is made of love

16 March 2012

It's Friday and my first week back in the city, away from my family, is coming to an end. I miss them all so much. When I saw this lovely new print by Rebekka Seale the other day, I thought that it perfectly captured the way I have been feeling since Andrew and Glasgow left after bringing me "home" to Montreal last weekend. Except that Montreal isn't my home anymore, even though most of my belongings are here, and my daily life will be here for the next couple of months. If "a home is made of love alone," then my home is with my lovely little family in Laurentian Valley, where all three of them are patiently (or perhaps not-so patiently) waiting for me to come home. It is strange living in two places and leading what feels at times like a double life, but it is also deeply comforting and warming knowing that I have a real home somewhere, even if it isn't here. Where do you feel most at home? Is home a place or more of a feeling?

On a happier note, the weather forecasted for this weekend is full of sunshine and warm temperatures, so I think I am finally going to break out of the house and explore the city, and maybe even participate in some St. Patrick's Day festivities. 

I wish you a wonderful, love-filled weekend, whether you are at home or away....



melanie pullen

I was first introduced to Melanie Pullen's High Fashion Crime Scenes, a series of photographs based on vintage crime-scene images, first-hand accounts, and documents the artist culled from the archives of the Los Angeles Police Department and County Coroner's Office, by a colleague while doing my Master's in the History of Art, Design, & Vuisual Culture.We shared a love of the grotesque and macabre (although she professed a greater love for high fashion than I did), so when she presented the images to me I was immediately struck by their disturbing beauty and surreal, almost cinematic quality, but also by the compelling stories underlying the works.

Pullen began the project after reading a copy of Luc Sante's 1992 book, Evidence (1914-1919), chronicling early-twentieth-century crime scene photos from the New York Police Department. As she recounts, she became so fascinated with the details and artful framing of the images that she almost didn't notice the crimes, their violence and gruesomeness receding into the background. Intrigued by the ways in which we have become desensitized to violent images in contemporary visual and media culture, she re-creates the crime scenes and styles the photos to draw out these details, outfitting her "victims" in haute couture and bold, saturated colours. In doing so, she employs the power of the cultures of fashion and beauty to distract, to divert our attention away from what are otherwise deeply disturbing events and subjects, while nevertheless allowing this violence to ambiguously lurk in the background. All of the photos in the series are based on real crime scenes and speak to real tragedies, however buried in the past or lost in archives they may seem. It is these haunting and inaccesible back stories that drives the series and that Pullen seeks to evoke, examining our desensitized, glamourized relationship to violent imagery. At the same time, however, she also celebrates the history of crime scene photography, paying homage to photographers like Eugene Atget, Alexander Gardner, Jacob Riis, and Arthur Fellig (aka Weegee) who often worked as both artists and professional photographers, producing artistic crime scene photos that were evocative of tabloid illustrations or film noir at the same time that they documented violent and gruesome events.

Melanie Pullen, Anna & The Grass, 2003

Melanie Pullen, Dorothy (Barrel Series), 2003

Melanie Pullen, Half Prada (Hanging Series), 2003

Melanie Pullen, Miyake (Metro Series), 2005

Melanie Pullen, Last Light, 2004

Melanie Pullen, Red (Water Series), 2005

Melanie Pullen, Mr. Rossi, 2004

Melanie Pullen, Caovilla, 2004

Melanie Pullen, Phones, 2005

Melane Pullen, Oscar's Grass, 2005

Melanie Pullen, Blue (Water Series), 2005

Melanie Pullen, Milla's Welcome, 2004


Melanie Pullen, Hugo's Camera, 2004

Melanie Pullen, The Weitzman File, 2004

Melanie Pullen, Self-Portrait, 2003

Melanie Pullen, Mirror (Hanging Series), 2005

Melanie Pullen, Renee's Tree, 2004

Melanie Pullen, Rebecca, 2004

spring forward

12 March 2012

I will be fully emerging out of hibernation soon, but for now I wanted to at least say a long overdue "hello" and imprint myself here, even if in the smallest of ways. I officially submitted my comprehensive exams a week ago today and am now back in the city. I am still a little stunned and am slowly returning to a slightly more normal and balanced life (i.e. one in which I am not hunched over my computer for 12-16 hours a day frantically trying to make sense of large amounts of material and write coherent essay responses to two excellently posed and provocative exam questions). I still have an oral exam to compliment my written work next week (for which I am of course nervous and feel utterly unprepared), so I am not out of the woods yet, but I at least have time to pause and ground myself before then. I am absolutely and in every way exhausted, but I have so many exciting plans and projects ahead, and Spring will soon be here, so I don't feel completely defeated (despite losing an hour of sleep this weekend as a result of "springing forward," when I needed it most!). I did, however, have to say a sad and emotional (although also temporary) goodbye to Andrew on Sunday evening, when he left to return to the country after taking me and all my stuff back to Montreal for the next few months as I live out the rest of the school year in flesh instead of as a long distance "ghost" student. Although our long-distance relationship will soon be coming to an end and we have SO much to look forward to, including a small and intimate wedding this summer, it nevertheless gets harder and harder every time we have to say goodbye and return to our respective posts (I hestitate to say "homes," because I feel so divided between our two residences and my real home is with him and our little family, so "posts" is perhaps a better description). Both Hunter and Glasgow are staying with Andrew, so I am deeply missing the whole family.

Inspired  in part by this exhausting exam process, as well as by Hila, the writer behind the always inspiring le projet d'amour, and by conversations with my colleagues, who likewise experience the loneliness, stresses, and self-doubt as graduate students and researchers, I am thinking of starting a new series "on doing a PhD in the arts" to relate my experiences and provide a small forum for a discussion of the difficulties (but also the pleasures and rewards) we face as PhD students in the humanities and social sciences. Although I am admittedly the type to lock myself up in my home workspace and self-isolate as an academic, community and encouragement in this field are so important. I also want to share more of my research and art historical perspectives, integrating these aspects of myself into arterie & co. rather than simply using the blog as a healthy escape from my academic work.

I have a few unfinished draft blog posts floating around, but I have not yet committed to anything and am undecided as to how I want to return to regular (or semi-regular) blogging. I am also trying to focus on nova lily designs and a new website so that I can launch the new collection(s) soon! There is so much to do, so please be patient as I readjust, slowly come out of hibernation, and continue to spring forward....

The above image is a view from my desk at our small and humble home in Laurentian Valley. Both the botanical calendar and fox card are from the lovely Rifle Paper Co., and the other small prints adorning the magnetic board (which is actually a door conventiently covering an electric panel) are by artists Leah Duncan, Yelena Bryksenkova, and Eva Juilet.

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