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Curated by Melanie Egan
January 18 – June 2, 2019South Vitrines
Reception: Friday, January 25 from 7-10pm
Michelle Forsyth’s domestic realm is at the crux of her art practice. It is the ultimate live/work space. She is surrounded by objects that have been gathered or received, catalogued and lovingly stored, that retain lineage and narratives honouring the experiences and people in her life.
She has an innate connection to materials, is blatantly unafraid of colour and proudly asserts that she is “a proponent of decorative repetition.” Her particular propensity for textiles is evident in her artworks that feature layered patterns, swathed objects and thread. She tenderly wraps books, treasured family photographs or a precious teacup in fabric to shroud and cherish them. Her work ventures into the performative on occasion. It is not unusual for her to show up for her exhibition openings wearing a frock she has made herself from fabric that is incorporated into her artwork.
Forsyth’s practice is never limited to one particular technique or method. With equal vigour she paints, photographs, knits, weaves, creates animations, sews and more recently, has taken up woodcuts. Many of these techniques are labourious—even obsessive—which Forsyth says is intentional. Forsyth lives with Parkinson’s and she sees these difficult techniques as a way to subvert her disease. Regardless of what process is used they all become a means to an end—the meticulous recordings of the stuff of day-to-day.
Forsyth’s work is a profound archive—an elaborate diary and commemoration of her domestic realm where the ordinary stuff of life becomes vital touchstones for artistic investigations.
– Melanie Egan
When I was young, I spent a lot of time looking at a home decorating book that belonged to my mother. It was a large coffee table book with pages filled with images of beautiful homes. Each colourful room, decorated with things, arranged neatly by colour, provided me a place to escape when I desired relief from the tight confines of the boat we lived on then. Over the years, I have thought a lot about that book, and I have since collected design magazines that promise me a similar type of escape. The spaces contained within them are chambers of possibility for me and I work to arrange my things to reflect them. Inside the vitrines will be photographs laid out to mimic the book. It is also a condensed personal inventory of my things. It is a way for me to keep track.
– Michelle Forsyth
This exhibition is part of the DesignTO Festival (January 18-27, 2019).
Michelle Forsyth employs a diverse array of material processes to create a taxonomy of the objects in her home. Tales of companionship accompany many of her works. Whether embedded within the structure of the work itself, or included as a footnote, she uses these stories to express a gratitude for those with whom she has shared her life. Forsyth holds an MFA from Rutgers University, and a BFA from the University of Victoria. She has been the recipient of grants from the Canada Council of the Arts and Artist Trust. Her work has been exhibited internationally. She is currently writing her first book.