To Have and to Hold is a collaborative series created together with visual artist Rosemarie Peloquin. These two pieces are currently a part of the For the Love of Craft exhibition at the Pembina Hills Art Centre in Morden, Manitoba July 3, 2020 – August 14, 2020.
Rosemarie is a sculptor – she works with her hands, felting wool into soft human gestures and portraits, imbuing painterly life into pillowy fibre. I am a book artist – I too work to give life to my materials, caring constantly for the form they will take in someone’s hands – their texture, movement, smell – all designed to be interactive.
I find that the beauty of collaboration is identifying where your work overlaps and exploring what can grow from that space.
For us, the connection is born out of an urge to touch, to hold and to be tactile with our work. A natural instinct that we both encourage with our viewers.
The timing of the pandemic lock-down coincided so precisely with the planning of this collaborative project that we couldn’t help but see the irony. Two artists living an hour’s driving distance apart, planning to work together to make art that is intended to be handled by our viewers – at a time when contact between each other and contact with our audience are ruled out? We had to laugh.
The sudden change in logistics posed some challenges. We switched to porch deliveries – Rosemarie would deliver a piece in progress and we would stage quick outdoor trades for each other’s inspiration back in our separate studios. I gave Rosemarie some of the cedar bark I wanted to use as book covers – she came back with the idea to create tiny, cradling hands for it from natural wool fibre, and thus gifted me tufts of wool to study as I worked. Studio visits became outdoor-when-the-weather-permits-visits.
I loved the idea of heightening the experience of the book as a held object. I often think of books as vessels for knowledge and connection. Rosemarie works often with the form of hands, reflecting on their ability to convey meaning through movement and touch. It’s fitting that at a time when neither of our works can be held by viewers, they can be given new meaning together.
As we continue our collaborative relationship, the poetry in the process has become about learning how to create together while remaining apart. It has grown in us an even deeper appreciation of our innate need to touch and to hold.
We would like to thank the Manitoba Arts Council for their generous support of this project.