Hollis McConkey: Phases (In and Out)
Curated by Sarah Shelton & Lauchlin MacQuarrie.
Hollis McConkey (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto, Ontario, on the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe, and the Huron-Wendat. She recently graduated OCAD U with a major in Drawing and Painting and minor in Art History and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at Goldsmiths, University of London.
As a chronically ill woman, artist, and previous athlete, Hollis aims to make visible the nuanced invisibilities of her own identity and experience in/with Western ‘normative’ structures. Taking references from contemporary media, sports, and historical art practices, her work considers what it means to be an invisibly disabled woman navigating structures designed to marginalize experiences outside of heteronormative, Eurocentric, capitalist, ablest, and patriarchal systems.
Growing up in competitive athletic spaces, she considers questions about 'belonging' and identity construction and how one must take up certain practices to fit into patriarchal and ableist structures. From this Hollis has established the concept of seeing and being seen as the central focus of her practice.
In this exhibit, Hollis speaks indirectly to her own disabilities by addressing her sister’s lived disability experience. Hollis invited her sister Charlotte to write down her feelings and struggles in living daily with a painful disability. This resultant collection – scraps of paper, napkins, and wrappers – exposes the viewer to the consistent and exhausting nature of surviving with certain disabilities.
In addition, Hollis unpacks the TTC’s accessibility poster campaign. Despite appearing in street cars, buses, and subway trains across the city, the TTC’s poster is often passed over and misunderstood by travellers in the rush of commuting
The resulting dissonance between the TTC’s ineffective poster campaign and Hollis’ sister’s visceral writing opens the viewer to questioning how a lack of visibility further disables people with invisible disabilities. In this, Hollis emphasizes the continuous marginalization of invisible disabilities.
Special thanks for exhibition support to Cathy Cappon and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI).
This link is to an audio recording on a loop of a breathing exercise practiced by Hollis' sister. The listener can hear her inhaling and exhaling with changing strength. Each inhale and exhale last about 2-3 seconds each. Many of the exhales are louder than the inhales.
The curators invite you to contribute to an online community by sharing your experiences with invisibility. How do you experience disability -- culturally, physically, socially, emotionally... This links to a Facebook group page.
Catherine Heard -- Making - Red Work: The Emperor of Atlantis
Redwork: The Emperor of Atlantis (detail), 2023, mixed media including antique textiles and embroidery, dimensions variable. Photograph by the artist.
Making –– Redwork: The Emperor of Atlantis
Catherine Heard’s exhibition Making –– Redwork: The Emperor of Atlantis employs the creative form of the graphic novel to reflect on the five-year process of creating a community-based textile installation. Her narrative emphasizes subjectivity, revealing the complexities, uncertainties, and anxieties of producing a work of art.
The installation, which is on view at the Niagara Artist Centre in Fall 2023, camouflages scenes of war, injustice, and resistance in a patchwork of antique redwork embroideries. Patriotic imagery, homey domestic scenes and fairy tale characters are juxtaposed with embroideries of traumatic events, raising questions about how history is recorded in the domestic sphere and the stories we tell ourselves as we try to make sense of the world in which we live.
The complex work integrates embroidery patterns depicting WWI, WW2, The Vietnam War, The War on Terror, Black Lives Matter, and the current war in Ukraine. Additionally, four guest artists have created patterns that reflect their personal histories: Lolita Newman commemorates her ancestral connection to slavery; Ghazal Tahernia documents the Iranian Revolution; Star Nahwegahbo communicates her truth as an Indigenous woman; and Sophia Boyadjian ties the history of the Armenian Genocide to present-day events.
During the pandemic, the project shifted from monthly, in-person, embroidery bees to an online model and began sending free embroidery kits to participants by mail. To date, over 200 people have contributed embroidered motifs to the project. You can see their individual contributions and read their words at https://www.emperorofatlantis.com/embroideries-by-participants
Red Work: The Emperor of Atlantis is a perpetually unfinished work. New participants are welcome to request free embroidery kits from www.emperorofatlantis.com.
Thank you to Studio Assistants, past and present: Krystal Bigsky, Tamar Bresage, Emma Feliciano, Phoebe Findlay, Salma Al Ghazhaly, Shiemara Hogarth, Mourin Hydier, Yvonne Gascon, Daniela Gonzalez Mantilla, Niku Koochak, Chad Mohammed, Jackson Piij, Tatjana Reithofer, Emily Roe, Katia Scandale, Semonde Snauwaert, Olivia Taylor, and Szaky Wu
Catherine Heard gratefully acknowledges the support of the University of Windsor Women’s Research Fund, The University of Windsor Ignite Work Study Program for funding studio assistants, and the University of Windsor Humanities Research Group, where she is the 2023-24 HRG Fellow.
Making –– Redwork: The Emperor of Atlantis (detail), 2023, Photo Comic, Dimensions variable. Photograph by the artist.
Catherine Heard is an interdisciplinary artist whose works integrate traditional textile techniques into sculpture and installation. Historical crafts such as embroidery become a foil for complex narratives and difficult subject matter, including histories of the body, war, and injustice. Her most recent works invite public participation, engaging the conversational dynamics of the quilting bee. Heard’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, The Art Gallery of Hamilton, The Art Gallery of Kamloops and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. She lives in Windsor, Ontario, and is an Assistant Professor at the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor. She is represented by Birch Contemporary Gallery in Toronto.
Making –– Redwork: The Emperor of Atlantis opens at 113Research (113 McCaul) Oct 24 and will run until the end of January 2024. The exhibit will be accompanied by artist talks/stitchery workshops. An in person stitch-in will be held at ODESI, 3rd floor, 100 McCaul Street on Wednesday Oct 25. Two others will be online 12-2.30 PM Nov 7 & Nov 2.
Pam Patterson and 113Research gratefully acknowledge the support of Ashok Mathur, VP Research, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI) for this project (exhibition, public talks, and workshops).
Ways to Contribute Embroidery to Red Work: The Emperor of Atlantis:
From Catherine Heard:
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to embroider! During the Victorian era, making a redwork square was often a first embroidery project for a young girl because it is an achievable learning task for someone who is learning to sew.
Learn how to participate and watch tutorial videos at: https://www.emperorofatlantis.com/blog/tutorial-videos
Patterns and materials kits will be provided for free at OCADU workshops (see below). You can also request a free kit via the website (see link above)."
OCADU students, faculty, staff and community guests may attend free workshops in the following classes:
In-person session is Oct 25 ODESI Gallery, Room 316, 100 McCaul Street.
Time is TBC
* Please order your free embroidery kit for the online workshops by Sept 15. Free embroidery kits will be provided to participants at the ODESI in-person session.
To order a pattern, fill in the Google form at: https://forms.gle/bUcQWGznkSDbZS7f9
Other Options for Project Participation:
International participants are welcome.
Winter 2024: Vincent Depoivre
Spring 2024: TBA
Exhibits proposal are welcomed now for 2024-2025.