Hesitations

09/17/2010

At the point where the wall begins, there is a single grey line. As our eyes follow this line, we see that it feeds into a series of nails — hundreds of nails, carefully placed. The thread winds between the nails, resulting in several five-by-seven-foot mechanical wave patterns, all created from the single thread. Accompanying these wave patterns are faint sounds of voices — a sigh, hums and fragments of words.

The large wave patterns are artist Emily Hermant’s representation of the gaps that come in between the words. The pauses or moments of the body’s reactions to words — the need to clear the throat, to catch one’s breath, the words restrained, the emotional states revealed — this is the focus of her work. The alteration of the sounds into wave patterns is a labour-intensive process that begins mechanically with recording devices. Then these sonic patterns are enlarged and printed out as waveform images, which in turn form the patterns for the placement of the nails and, finally, the lacing of the thread.

The objects on the walls stand out from the sounds as large, shimmering jagged wave formations that direct the gallery space. Hermant’s study of speech or human sound patterns are grounded in an emotional reaction to physical form. Her choices of materials and her method of creating forms — the mechanics of representation — tell us something about the artist and our shared experiences.

Hermant’s work contains echoes of what is traditionally known as “women’s work”: making and mending, sewing and weaving, and so on. The use of thread — a delicate material and a primary characteristic of our clothing and blankets — arouses feelings of comfort. Hermant’s use of thread retraces these familiar qualities and allows us to reflect upon methods and materials typically used for the genesis of physical and emotional warmth. And we are given the option of looking beyond our comfort and pleasure into the unknown, which, too, forms an ever-present part of our daily life.

The threads that held together the clothing forms that Betty Goodwin brought to our attention in the later 1960s can be seen as ghost of the past now present in Hermant’s threaded waveforms. Goodwin’s etchings comment on how our bodies function. Her black prints of single items of clothing — vests, socks, or gloves on white grounds — are skeletons of garments. The clothing in her prints appear as isolated tokens of the wearer, who no longer has use for them. Owing to life-changing experiences, like growing out of clothes, aging and ultimely death, we leave behind us collections of things that may be reused by others, though perhaps memories or impressions of the previous owner linger. Goodwin’s prints evoke a sense of loss and emptiness, yet at the same time a delicate structure possessing the beauty and reassurance of the objects closest to us.

 

 1-Mayo Graham, Some Canadian Women Artists (National Gallery of Canada, 1975.

 

Natalie Olanick is an artist, writer and part-time curator. She teaches at Dawson College and is on the board of articule gallery in Montreal.  She has shown her work in various galleries and museums in Canada and the United States. Her most recent show was At Propeller gallery in Toronto, Fall 08. In the winter 2010 she is curating an exhibition of Francoise Sullivan at Womens’ Art Resource Center in Toronto. This event will be in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is always amazed at where art takes her. is an artist, writer and part-time curator. She teaches at Dawson College and is on the board of articule gallery in Montreal.  She has shown her work in various galleries and museums in Canada and the United States. Her most recent show was At Propeller gallery in Toronto, Fall 08. In the winter 2010 she is curating an exhibition of Francoise Sullivan at Womens’ Art Resource Center in Toronto. This event will be in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is always amazed at where art takes her.
 

Project(s): 
Participating artists: 
Natalie Olanick

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