I make miniature red dresses, decorate each one individually and hang it on a miniature hanger. I give them away and place them at memorial sites. Each one is a prayer.
In Canada and the U.S., Indigenous women and girls are about 10 times more likely to go missing or be murdered than national averages. (As if there should even be an “average.”) The REDress Project calls attention to this face, demands justice, an end to racism in all its ugly forms, and honours the memory of stolen Indigenous sisters, mothers, aunties and daughters. The REDress Project was started by Métis artist Jaime Black of Winnipeg Manitoba.
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, Canadians were horrified to learn that conditions in many Long Term Care facilities were substandard.
Together with other members of the Hags and Crones group, I created old people dolls and sent them off to politicians and the media to call them to act to rectify the situation. Each doll carried a letter.
The Bird Skull Series
The Bird Skull Series spent 3 years in the incubator of my heart. At first, I did not understand why I kept coming upon dead birds. Near our front door, I witnessed a magpie wake. The corpse lay on the grass andhis friends and family gathered around to mourn and to “wake” him. After that, I found them in parks, roadsides, sidewalks. A Blackcapped Chickadee, Spruce grouse, Harrier hawk, Black-billed magpies, Ring-billed seagull, Crows, a female Mallard duck. Most of the articles I used were found or recycled, and I also incorporated mammal and amphibian bones, domestic chicken skulls. I purchased the manufactured Raven skeleton, cage and the frames for pictures of Rachel Carson and The Black Madonna. I followed my instincts. I buried the bodies with ritual, asking if it was alright to take the head. I learned how to care for the skulls, to clean and bleach them, although I still didn’t know what they were meant to teach me. Eventually I was given a vision for each one, four in all. I worked in silence or listned to Chopin. Sometimes I cried, always I felt very focussed. I viewed each creation as a Lament I hope that I have honoured the birds with these works.
With thanks to Bill Phipps and Sharon Woodhouse
for ongoing support for this project.
A skeleton of Raven holds the skeleton of a warring human in a cage. Raven shares her nightmare warning.
Stop, Look and Listen
This diorama took 4 months to germinate after I had been given the body of a beautiful crow, found on a road in British Columbia by Sarah Kerr. The cement-coloured human will not see the destruction of our kin, nor hear the cries of Creation. Against a background of a shattered mirror, the clock and watches show us that we are at the 11th hour; it is time for drastic action on Climate Change. The bones of Pig, Deer and Cow, the rags of Hornet’s nest and Monarch’s wings, shreds of birch bark, empty sea shells, a wisp of Buffalo’s hair testify with the Gull’s wing, and skulls of Crow, Magpie and domestic Chicken. The human notices nothing.
Crucifixions was born of my Christian heritage. Every year during Lent, I have imagined the long walk to “the place of skulls,” Golgotha, outside Jerusalem. There, Jesus and two others were executed. The long walk we now take — all of us — is to an understanding that the ways we live on our fragile planet “crucifies” soil, water and other beings. Many of the wish bones were given to me by Sarah Kerr. There are also bones from a road-killed Fox and Seagull; Pig bones were retrieved from a restaurant. The Day of the Dead skeleton is from Mexico; the flowers are Daisies and Babies’ Breath. The central figure, a female mallard duck, was found on a Calgary street by Sharon Woodhouse. The idea to use the duck this way came to me in a prayer. The piece is anchored in cement — we continue “pave paradise.”
The Party’s Over
Barbie’s Ken doll stands in for all of us, bound hand and foot for the sins of indifference and greed that have broken Mother Earth’s capacity to renew herself. His tuxedo and festive coloured lights show that he was arrested in midcelebration. The birds have had enough. Judge Harrier hawk listens, as do members of the jury: Spruce grouse, Black-billed gull and Magpies as Crow, the Lawyer for the Prosecution lists the crimes. There never was a lawyer for the defence, because there really is no defence, is there?
Crimes Against Our Mother
Detachment from Kin
Silencing Indigenous Voices
Abandoned Extraction Sites
Genetically Modified Organisms
DDT& Agent Orange
Willful Ignorance about Nature
Hunting to Extinction
Massacres of Plains Buffalo
Mindless “Recreation Vehicles”
Reckless Housing Developments
Experimenting on Animals
Paucity of Community Gardens
Food out of Season
Seine Net Fishing
Using Oceans as Toilets
Massacres of Whales