And we're back !
This time I want to tell you about cool woman artist, friend and former studio-mate of almost two years, the talented and industrious human Meichen Waxer.
After moving to Toronto from Aurora, she lived in Parkdale for a long while with her beloved kitties. She's had various jobs in offices and galleries ( you can read about her work and her life here) and for the most part, makes art for a living. But right now I'm going to tell you about our time together and how I see her.
It took a while, but Waxer got to me. We met a couple years ago when she contacted me about renting out the same studio space as my friend and I had in mind, which we had actually just looked at together. It was small but it was in a great location. It would be my first studio. My guard was up and I felt a pang of competition, was wary- who is this person and why would I want to be in the same work space as them? It didn't take long to realize that no shit, it wouldn't hurt to share (she seemed nice enough) and so Meichen, Steph and I decided that sure, we would rent together. And so began our friendship, albeit awkwardly. If you've ever had roommates, or shared studio space, you're aware that the post-move-in adjustment period can be trying, and it was. My portion was half of a dimly-lit room (a dimly-lit room that I now spend a lot of time in) which I had to widdle into a creative and productive space for myself and what I initially saw as a challenge (ie. doing that alongside a relative stranger- someone who seemed more practiced and arts-educated and committed than myself) was actually helpful and motivating. In the beginning I was skeptical, maybe even jealous, but Meichen's enthousiasm about her work would actually make the process easier. I even realized that I was equally as dedicated to my work as she- who knew?
All of a sudden I wasn't so scared about when our studio hours would overlap. Meichen proved to be as dedicated a friend as she was an artist; spending studio time together while working on our respective projects, shouting over whatever pop music we could agree on meant getting to know her as a silly pal, ambitious and with a kind heart. I was happy to bug her for anything from photography-related to love-life to yoga-pose advice cause yeah, she's a serious yoga pro.
There's still a lot of her gold-leaf floating around, and when I came in the other morning, there was a squirrel skittering around with a big chunk of it stuck to it's face.
Meichen's practice currently explores mysticism and middle eastern mythology through illustration and painting (though she studied photography at OCAD) and she recently finished a residency in a tiny little village in Italy this past summer. You can see documentation of her most recent solo show at Milkglass (Toronto) here and of course a quick google search will reveal various other sweet shots of her at work. As I mentioned, she recently migrated (cats in tow) to Vancouver to do an MFA at Emily Carr.
Funnily enough, we haven't been in touch since she moved away but I have a feeling she's doin' fine and look forward to update.
thx 4 lukin
a personal note, some things to keep in mind: this series involves an ever-evolving questionnaire which subjects answer but that is not and will not be posted online. I'm constantly re-evaluating the nature of the questions I ask about work, productivity, success, etc since the series as a whole is meant to redefine those concepts on "our" terms based on our experiences. But the term "our" and the notion of network is problematic, read: woman is not a monolithic category and we often have disparate life experiences that prevent us from acting as a unified woman front. I wonder, can a project like this fracture the illusory notion of sisterhood, or the more updated idea of a female community? Yep, the eventual goal of the series is to give a more comprehensive look at women and their relationships to work, but what you read here is a way for you to get to know me and glean a more nuanced understanding of female relationships. A significant thing I think you should listen to, no matter your gender, is this!
Though I have to be honest, I have to confess: I have post-poned this post for personal reasons. One of said reasons is because (ready?) making brief but sincere and truthful statements about people that will honour their awesome and not be overly glorifying or false which will also maybe come up on a search engine so that other people outside my personal network might be made aware of these cool women is, in truth, vaguely daunting. Some of these women I will have known for half my life, and still don't know at all; others I've worked with for less than three hundred and sixty five days and they feel like siblings. Either way, writing about other women is fun but challenging. Sometimes so much so that I'm not sure what I'm writing about someone is accurate, and sometimes because I feel like it's insufficient. Regardless, there will always be a "profile" because that's the point of the project, and even if it is a relatively small blurb, these faces still mean a lot to me. Maybe this way you'll learn a little bit about me, too. Basically, the bottom line is that I can't promise portraits posted on the regular, because of that whole 'writing about other people' bit, but also because I work a lot! For myself, in the service industry, and as an artist. Such as life and hustling in the big city. I hope you understand. I'm sure you understand.
But that's all, that's the end of disclaimer. This post isn't entirely about me, it's really about this beautiful woman I met almost a decade ago,
Kate Christine Miller.
Kate and I were introduced by friends of mine in Guelph (where she did her BFA) though she would describe herself as being from "warm kitchens and smoky basements and over invested basketball coaches and houses that all look the same, but not in a new suburban way, the Niagara Region. Now Toronto is [her] home."
She always seemed like a very successful human, you know, a real grown ass woman to me. She was someone who I admired from afar, hung out with occasionally, but didn't know all that well. Maybe I just always knew she was a fellow feminist because of the cool people, my then "older" high school friends, who introduced us. We've been moving in the same Toronto circles for some years now, and more and more, I see the cool things she gets up to. I feel like I learned a lot about Kate while I photographed her, and even more when she answered my questionnaire, actually.
Kate is passionate about working with and empowering kids (read: smashing the patriarchy) and has a few amazing gigs. She works with youth at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, as well as at Delisle Youth Services in midtown, and works for the forever badass Shameless Mag.
One thing I really noticed was that Kate was pretty much always ready, from the moment I arrived to the one I rode away, to stare right into the guts of my camera.
She's got a sweet apartment set up on Toronto's west side where she practices drumming on a cool kit in her room and seems to take good care of herself and her friends.
'til next time,
Well people, I've been busy photographing the amazing women in my life, and learning more about them and theirs, portrait by portrait. Though you don't see much talk-face happening, these images are mostly made mid-conversation: chats that range from hilariously casual to deeply personal and revolve around sentiments we don't often flesh out (frustration, anticipation, etc) because we're busy bantering.
So here's Rebecca. We met on the island a few years ago and something clicked. We may not see each other often, but I have a deep like and respect for this one.
Rebecca is from Streetsville, Mississauga but spent a good deal of time growing up (and now living + working) in Toronto. She's a graphic designer with a knack for type design. More and more lately, we see each other schlepping around our west-end neighborhood. To me, Cianfrini is a woman who knows what she needs, has a chill and perhaps vaguely cynical outlook, and looks fly in a leather jacket.
Thanks for looking, and expect new faces next week!
So here we are, the second installation of this tentatively titled project.
This week I present to you
Sarah is a woman of many hats. Actually, one of the first times I met her she was dressed as a massive, walking rock. Like this huge, exceptionally realistic papier-maché rock was one of said hats, and it was amazing. Sure, she studied a little bit of everything at NSCAD, but right now she's got good things going on in the heart of Toronto. She's one of a small group of artists and curators who are taking over and transforming one of the oldest standing buildings on Spadina Ave into a gallery+event+garden+etc space. In the past, Sarah was (an intensely private sketcher and film dork but is now becoming more and more interested in any kind of socially engaging work, which is a pretty nice transition if you ask me.
Kilpack is savvy with herbs and tinctures, environment + costume design; she always has some interesting concoction or stone or other neat thing to tell me about when I see her. These days Sarah spends a chunk of her time volunteering or training with various community driven organizations such as The Stop and you can find her at Double Double Land one Monday a month, making sure the monthly comedy show Doored runs smoothly.
Hey, hi! Nice to see you.You may have noticed that I don't often blah blah here, but I thought I would take a sentence or two to let you know that a new, yet-to-be named, long-term portrait project starts now. Yes yes, I make portraits all the time, but you'll now notice brief and informal profiles about the women pictured.
Get to know these women and their work.
Shall we begin?
This is Brette Gabel.
You may have seen her here before. I think she looks a lot more serious in these photos than she is in life, but here she is, looking pretty mellow at home. She's a friend and a maker hailing from Regina but has lived and worked in Toronto for a while now. Actually, Brette was planning her wedding while finishing her MFA at OCADU and just exhibited her IAMD thesis show at 2186 Dundas West. You can see her beautiful work (quilts! installations! video! BG does it all) here and you might even run into walking her cool dog Ozzy in Toronto's East end.
This last photograph, I think, is an expression that is more "Brette". She's got some ascerbic wit, a pretty dark sense of humour, and what I perceive as a very no-bullshit, inherently feminist outlook on life. Until next week...