Tuesday, December 29, 2015

W/A interview, vol 3

So grateful to be featured in one of my favorite publications out there, amongst so many inspiring individuals in the latest edition of women artists vol. 3. This is a discussion with my friend Amy Egerdeen talking frankly on motherhood, affecting the creative process, isolation, depression, postpartum depression & raising the next generation of women.

W/A interview

A: First I’d love to hear about what you do, why you do it, and what you love about your work:

TL: I run the independent shop Good Night, Day – a knitwear label with an aesthetic that emphasizes sustainability, and incorporates traditional handcrafted skills with a modern & minimalist approach. I hand knit & design limited run exclusive batches, all out of Canada using fairly sourced South American wools. As well, I self-publish knitting booklets & patterns.

I am the sole individual behind everything, all of my work is very hands on, so it is highly personal to me . I love being so deeply invested in my work.  I taught myself to knit as a way to channel my creativity & I immediately loved the empowerment that came with learning such a solitary skill. Knitting feels artistically & politically liberating to me.

T-L: Please tell me about what you create, your process & also your involvement in the community, with such projects as the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair?

A: I have been making handbound books, prints and zines for about 10 years now, also self-taught and also the sole individual running my business. I draw all my patterns and images, screen-print covers of books, bind the books by hand. I love the whole process of printing and working with paper.

I have always used bookmaking and zine-making as a way to explore creativity and different subjects I’m interested in – feminism and folklore and women’s lived experiences. I also am interested in the community aspect of making – I co-founded the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair in 2014, and love watching this event grow into something big. The zine fair is all about prioritizing and celebrating voices that are typically ignored in zine-making – feminist, queer viewpoints; folks who are new to zine making and exploring feminism through their work.

A: How did you build yourself as an artist / maker while you had children? How did you negotiate time / your own space / yourself as a maker?

TL: Honestly, I'm still grasping to build myself as a maker & I’m not sure I would call myself an artist. This was hardly premeditated, but more a struggling organic approach to how I now happen to be doing this full time as a way to help support my family. I will be the first to admit, I am terrible at prioritizing my time. I work off my emotions & I take a more visceral approach to my making. I never seem to get all of the things accomplished I wish to each day, there just isn't enough time. Yet I don't want to disappoint myself or lose track of my integrity. I am still balancing it all, like all makers, as well as all makers who happen to have children.

A: One thing that's been strange for me is how the work of raising a little baby feels really invisible – I think it’s tough when you’re someone who is very focused on productivity – making tangible things, being able to take stock of what you got done in a day. It makes me feel disconnected from the making / art community – have you felt this? What does it feel like for you?

T.L:  Even now, I have to struggle with feelings of loneliness & invisibility within the making community as I am not someone that forces myself out there, I have very real social anxieties that are probably the reason I turned to making as a creative outlet to feel less invisible in other ways. Although, I have also had the wonderful opportunities to work with others by way of collaborations or on lookbook shoots & have met some amazing creatives that I can even call my friends & supporters.

T-L: Do you see yourself as both a mom & an artist, & is it important to integrate these or do you see these as two separate roles altogether?

A: I feel like I’m just starting to see myself as a mom. I’ll do something – like wipe my baby’s spit up with my shirt – and think: that was totally something a mom would do. It’s a slow process. But at the same time, I haven’t been making like I used to – I used to be productive and creative every day – and that was such an important and essential part of me. And I took that time and space for granted, honestly. So I feel like right now I would just identify as in-the-middle, not quite mom-feeling, not quite maker, but almost both.  I can’t wait until I can tie in my mom-ness and my making life. I think what that might look like for me is maybe an openness to creativity for the sake of it (rather than a focus on the end product); messiness and exploring craft through teaching my girl; seeing things differently, new-ly. Those and the things I hope for, which make me feel like maybe I’ll get back to a place of happiness with making and creating work. But I don’t think I’ll ever get back to the same place.

T-L: As an artist and creative maker that earns from her work, what skills, coping strategies, struggles or life lessons learnt have you acquired from your craft that you hope to share or do you hope to pass on to your daughter?

A: One thing that I’ve learned is how important it is to really know your trade or arts practice – to be really good at what you do, and know everything about it. I love the process of becoming a pro at something – learning slowly, experimenting, challenging yourself – until it is a skill that becomes second-nature, and your way of understanding the world. I look at something and think of how I can make it a visual work on paper, or using paper. I have friends who do the same but with textiles or paint. I love that way of seeing the world. I would want to pass that on – that focus on something creative and exciting and all-encompassing, that ability to become confident in your work and your skill-set, so that that confidence builds and becomes part of who you are.

But I’d also be honest about the struggles: it’s hard to make money with art and making, it’s important to be able to shift with the creative world and learn new skills and coping strategies and apply them to your work. And I’d want to make sure that we value all work – that money doesn’t dictate what is worth more. I feel like I learn, unlearn, and relearn the same ideas constantly about how to value my work and how to also survive in the world.

A: Postpartum. I’ve had a lot of issues around postpartum, it’s terrible and scary and really hurts. I know you had similar experiences. How did you keep going – to keep feeling positive about making art, about your own creativity – when you were dealing with PPD / PPA?

T-L: I really hope you will be able to receive the care I found through my midwives & through a women’s health centre, of course the reality is there isn't enough help, support or information out there. I have always dealt my entire life with mental illness & depression & I was hospitalized after the birth of my daughter for a brief period. I experienced serious depression throughout my entire pregnancy & I felt so much shame. I kept sketchbooks during this time, photography & journal writing. I still have all these mementos hidden away in some box in my closet. I feel less shame looking back. 

T-L: Have you found any creative outlets to help manage the postpartum or do you feel hindered from this? 

A: I’ve been working on projects while dealing with postpartum – not my own work, but for a couple spaces here in Hamilton. It hasn’t been a release for me at all, but has added extra tension. I think one thing it did was force me to carve out just the smallest amounts of time for myself that were specifically non-baby-related. That was so good, looking back – but so stressful at the time. I love what you did - using your creativity to work through your postpartum. I think that’s a much better way of approaching it, rather than giving yourself deadlines for other people.

T-L: More than ever recently, I have felt so vulnerable & misunderstood about who I am when I tell others I am a mom. I feel that there is so much misrepresentation of what being a mom means, as well I feel like I have to further prove my worth & really express that I am so much more than just a mom. Have you felt this?

A: Mommy blogs, the way we talk about our lives being over once we have kids, labelling moms as asexual and boring and all this shit.  That Tracey Emin quote about art and motherhood - “There are good artists who have children... They are called men.” Or a friend telling me about a 20-something guy coming up to her after a reading to say, “You’re cool for a mom. There aren’t really any cool moms out there.”

I honestly think it’s all just misogyny. I mean, I think part of it comes from motherhood being very anti-individualistic, all about another person really taking over your life and compromising your independence in lots of different ways, and we live in a very individualistic culture currently. But even more, I think it’s misogynist, and it’s another way of grouping women and forgetting about them. Having them become irrelevant because you’ve labeled their work as boring or unimportant. So I like to think about women artists who created work and lived strange and creative and vulnerable lives, who were also moms. I want to think about motherhood as just as complex and as varied as any other big life decisions we make, rather than a label that would ever diminish a woman to a singular space. I think about artists like Pitseolak Ashoona or Shirin Neshat and it excites me knowing the multitudes of things they did with their life.  

T-L: How important is feminism to your art & creating? & do you have new perspectives on your feminist art since having a daughter?

A: I think I grew out of an art/craft movement that was tied up with feminism – in the early 2000’s, making was all about reclaiming women’s work, and making spaces for women in the craft and art communities (at least in my little community). That was a really important part of choosing bookmaking – a very traditionally male craft. It was also why being able to do every part of my craft was important – being able to rely on myself, to be independent. That’s shifted and changed over time, but those are still my roots.

Having my daughter is both really exciting for me, and really terrifying, because I personally think we live in a very misogynist world. I want to make things that are even more political and feminist and I want her to be part of a world that is changing for the better. I hope I can help her to feel powerful and confident in her life and herself.

T-L: What artists/makers inspire you?

A: I love Ness Lee’s work so much.  Also what Sarah Gottesdiener is doing right now - her work is amazing. And the “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. I think Monica Ramos is incredible and makes magical illustrations. And I love my friend’s work so much – Lee Meszaros, Caitlyn Murphy, Kalpna Patel, Krystal Speck.

A:What about you?

T.L: At the moment, some of my favorite artists/makers that inspire me right now include: artists jason lee rhyno, audrey wollen, minka sicklinger, illustrative artists sandi falconer, tallulah fontaine, jen collins, leah goren, photography of  lina scheynius, bee walker, arden wray, jennifer lee, jody rogac, agnes thor, valerie philips, ceramic work by helen levi, jennie jieun lee, textile art of  jeannie helzer, meghan shimek, & independent designers/makers include milena silvano, helen rodel, lauren winter, lisa hackwith, brookes boswell.

A: We both have daughters – what’s been important to you in raising a woman? How do you two talk about art, making, creativity – this whole world that we’re in?

T-L: I am so excited to be raising a daughter in this world where there is so much knowledge available to her, there is honest dialogue happening around her, that I never had growing up, and I am proud to see that my daughter is really strong & self-aware of who she is & who she wants to be.  It has always been important to raise my children with awareness, sensitivity, open discussions, a familiarity with art, books & creating, it has always just been natural in our home.

A: I just want to end with an idea of self-care. I found that that’s something that’s completely diminished in my life as a new mom. Do you practice self-care? How have you been able to reestablish self-care after having children?

TL: For my own sanity, I seek out routines of self-preservation in my own day to day, sometimes it is just a small thing like getting coffee & taking an extended walk or bike ride to mail packages. I find I can get really overwhelmed, depressed & anxious if i don’t find time for my myself. So, sometimes a bath with lavender oil & wine is a quick fix. Now that is it summer, & I am stepping out from my hermit ways I am finding solace in the woods, taking a hike & turning off all my media devices. The best cure for me is catching up with friends & getting away from my work, I can get way too caught up in it all. A book, knitting & some shade under a tree is self-care too, right?

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