Marney McDiarmid: Big Dreams I Jeannie Pappas: Manifestation
Opening Reception on Sunday, March 5th, 11am - 1pm.
Join us as we celebrate the opening of our exhibtion celebrating ceramic artists Marney McDiarmid and Jeannie Pappas. Brunch bites and DAVID's TEA will be served.
In 2016 the Bank of Canada invited members of the public to nominate an iconic Canadian woman to grace the new design of the nation’s $10 bill. In just over a month the Bank received over 26,000 submissions. Four hundred and sixty one of these nominations met the criteria. An independent advisory council created a long list of twelve names and then a short list of five. Viola Desmond, a Black civil rights activist from Nova Scotia, was ultimately chosen for the new bill.
The nomination process drew much public attention and, in addition to aiding in the redesign of the banknote, this national discussion brought the contributions of many Canadian women into the public conversation.
Big Dreams is a continuation of this dialogue. Each of the ten ceramic wall pillows features the image of a significant woman in Canadian history. The women are accompanied by botanical line drawings that speak conceptually to the person’s life history. For example Dianna Boileau, the first person in Canada to receive gender confirmation surgery, is surrounded by lush drawings of Plumeria, a plant symbolizing beauty, grace, spring, and new beginnings. The native rights activist Anna Mae Aquash (pictured above) is accompanied by drawings of groundnuts or “wild potatoes”, the sustenance crop indigenous to the area where she grew up. White poppies, a symbol of peace, adorn the wall piece featuring Violet Clara McNaughton, a pacifist active in the women’s farm and suffragette movements. Flowers have long been associated with feminine beauty yet a deeper look at this imagery reveals a layered symbolism of persistence, strength, dignity and determination that is characteristic of the women themselves.
I grew up in Cabbagetown, one of Canada’s most diverse neighbourhoods, the youngest of four children of immigrant parents. This became the ground of my experience: a world of individuals torn between the safety of community and the quest for freedom through assimilation. It is from within space that I seek to expose the interplay of the familiar and the hostile other.
My work reflects the condition of uprootedness and estrangement. It probes the search for meaning and identity within the shadows of the strange and bounded by disruptive narratives of normalcy and belonging. It explores the left-behind refugees, rejects, and delinquents who are drawn to the very norms that have cast them out, characters who reside within a homeless space between past and future, self-possession and alienation, assimilation and native fealty.
Working with porcelain clay with light washes of underglaze, my figures suggest narratives of tension: between body and mind, play and drudgery, the grotesque and the beautiful. Both individual and archetypal, these figures repel and attract, giving grace to the human made monstrous by conventions that shun in order to preserve the purity of their systems. In each I invite viewers to write their own stories, to reflect on their masks and their own Janus-faced identities.