Thursday, January 11, 2024

Participate in a Long Covid Awareness Project!

I'm looking for self-contributed photos of people who have or have had Long-Covid. 
I live with Long-Covid myself, and am currently working on a Long-Covid art piece, which will be performed and displayed at the Art Vancouver fair in April, 2024, and likely more places, after that. The piece will be part of my (dis)robe series, and titled Hospital Gown. It will be a wearable art piece made of a hospital gown and hospital blanket, and including a train Long-Covid symptoms and research findings over a gown of the faces of Long-Covid! I will need at least a few hundred faces of the millions currently affected in order to make a solid statement. The purpose here is to increase visibility for this issue, as well as for the many who are affected. Hopefully through awareness we'll also get more research.
Edited to add: The 200+ people who have already sent their selfies for this project have humbled me. I've had personal conversations with over a hundred of them; have shared stories of symptoms, of ups and downs and hopes and despair. We've talked about some of the things that are helping us persevere, and of who we were before all this. The images I'm collecting cover a range of experience from pre-covid wellness to the depths of illness. There are masked, gowned and tubed people, and smiling faces in work and athletic gear. This experience has been personally very motivating for me. It's easy when, like me, we've been sick for 4+ years, to forget our humanity and to accept the social perception that we're just a bunch of sick people. This project is reminding me that before this we were active contributing members of society. We want that back. This is why raising awareness matters.
Current concept drawing for (dis)robe: Hospital Gown, Jan 25, 2024

In April 2023 the National Library of Medicine published that "at least 65 million individuals worldwide are estimated to have long COVID, with cases increasing daily." This gown will be a part of sharing that story with the public.

Huge gratitude for these first 72 faces that will become a part of the upcoming project! I now have nearly 200 contributed faces, and hope to finish with 300.

Just send me a photo of your face--any photo you like (although face must be visible). That's it!
You can Instagram DM @emilyvanartist or send in an email to emilyvanartist at gmail dot com.
Yes it will be anonymous! Even if I see your name when you send me the photo, it will be printed without a name and added anonymously to the gown.
I would also very much appreciate this post being shared, as I hope to get at least a few hundred photos on this art-piece. Thank you!

New Year New Projects!

WOW it's been a year!!!
If you follow this blog or my Instagram feed, you already know I was lucky enough to install three shows this year, all with the gracious help of my partner Markus, and one with my first project grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I also hold enormous gratitude for the Hearth Gallery and the Gibsons Public Art Gallery for hosting these shows, and to the huge number of supporters I'm beginning to realize I have for not only showing up at the openings and to take in the shows, but also for buying quite a few of my paintings to bring home. Because of this support I was able to donate over $1400 this year to support the Bowen Island Conservancy, an organization that works hard to advocate for and preserve wilderness around my home. It feels humbling, in the way my wedding did, nearly 25 years ago now, when I looked out of the window and saw the guests gathering, and realized that these people cared about me. It's very deeply personal, and in the case of my art, it means I'm able to make an impact in protecting and educating about the things that are important to me. And this is huge.

In my studio working on paintings about the Shuswap fires.

As I sit here contemplating the year, the things that stand out are even more personal. My kids moved out last January and are now paying their own way in the city, some friends lost their homes in the raging wildfires we had this year, we lost a few loved ones both in my family and the community, and I'm FINALLY beginning to recover some of my ability after 3.5 years of living with long covid. Interesting, because 3.5 also happens to be the number of MILLIONS of Canadians who have or have had long covid, as of StatsCan's December 2024 publication.

So this leads to my next project: Hospital Gown.
This wearable art piece will be part of the (dis)robe series, and will be made from donated used hospital gowns and blanket, along with an ever-growing collection of photos of Canadians currently living with long-covid. Again I am humbled by so many people putting their trust in me as an artist to bring their faces into the wider community. The gown is barely started, but has already been invited to the Art Vancouver fair in April. I'll wear it to the opening event, there, whereafter it will be displayed along with other gowns from the collection. I still encounter quite a bit of misinformation and disbelief about long-covid, especially because those of us with autoimmune disease are so invisible. Either we're hidden away with our illness or we're out in public trying our damndest to look healthy. So it means a lot to me to have this opportunity to bring the faces of so many invisible sufferers out into the world.

Monday, October 23, 2023

w h a t . h o m e coming to Nex̱wlélex̱wem/Bowen Island November 10

I'm SO excited to finally be installing this immersive show in the community where it began. The first person to volunteer was my father. The next was my brother, and from there my video documentation of people talking about their experiences of home, belonging, and community spread into the wider community, and eventually to the mainland and Vancouver Island. What a massive learning process this was for me!! Not only the technical side of developing ways to intersect stories and landscapes by film, projection, and fabric, but learning to ask questions that promote the sharing of stories we don't often tell. I made many friends while interviewing for this work. And in an extreme stroke of luck I got to develop and exhibit the first iteration of it in Amsterdam! Which was odd, since all of the protagonists of the work are living in Western Canada. But the Dutch audience responded with passion, causing me to realize that it doesn't really matter where we live; feelings of belonging and community are essential to humanness. 

So here comes  w h a t . h o m e  to Nex̱wlélex̱wem/Bowen Island!! It's opening on my birthday, so I'm making some wild (local) needle teas and cookies to share. I hope you'll come. 

Lots of further links and info about this show are on the  w h a t . h o m e  page, but here's the essential info:

w h a t . h o m e

The importance of place, community and belonging in our increasingly globalized world

The Hearth Gallery
430 Bowen Island Trunk Rd.
Bowen Island, BC
(a 20-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, and a 1- to 2-minute walk from the dock)

Nov 10 – Nov 25, 2023
Wednesdays – Mondays, 11am-5pm

Evenings for this show only:
5-8pm, Nov. 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25th

Opening event: November 10, 6-8pm
Oh yeah... and those forest paintings from the next post below will be on display during this show, as well. 😊

What's for Sale this Holiday Season!

It's holiday shopping time, which for me means it's almost my birthday... and that is when I finally get to discover what my partner bought for me at the Gibson's Public Art Gallery a few months ago!!! Woohooooo!!! I love supporting other artists, and I love when people support them in my honour. 🧡 So increasingly I'm realizing that my art is also a commodity, and of course I love to be supported in what I do! 

People ask me what's for sale. Well... pretty much everything's "for sale", except my soul -- hahaha! But maybe you'd like a list of what's popular. I happily oblige. Here's a selection of things of various prices, to hopefully inspire your gift-giving, or just to fill your own home with some love and thought-provoking interest.

To Purchase: Please contact me at emilyvanartist at gmail dot com to arrange for e-transfer (or cash) and pick up or shipping! Of course, if you'd like to visit the studio and see these works in person before purchasing, that's always an option. Email me to arrange!

Forests - these are so fresh that you can't pick up until late November, when the paint's cured, and they're finished their residence at the Hearth Gallery, on Nex̱wlélex̱wem/Bowen Island. They're also so popular that one of them sold before I finished it (yikes--scary for me as an artist, but also super exciting, as I finished it specifically for the person who bought it!)

Left: "Cedars Dancing in the Autumn", 12x36 inches, $632 CAD
Right: Licorice Ferns Embracing Cooler Weather", 12x36 inches, $632 CAD

"Late September Catching Wind off the Sea"
18x72 inches, $1496 CAD

Each of these is 4x12 inches; $248 CAD
Titles, left to right: "Cedars in September", "Licorice Ferns in September", "Dancing Trees", "Licorice Ferns on Fallen Maple".

Change/Able - these are rearrangeable paintings. The concept is that you can change the art on your walls whenever you like; rearrange, reconfigure, or just turn a piece. Make your own art from a set of hand-painted unique tiles. It's like psychological growth: nobody else is working with the exact set of experiences we are as individuals, and we can experiment and direct our own growth, every day. The smallest ones come on a panel so they're very easy to hang (like a regular wired painting), but the larger ones come with hanging instructions, so you can blend them gorgeously with your own wall. 

"Wash Away the Rain", 7 canvases 4x12 inches each, $760 CAD

"Devil's Dream", 13 canvases, 3x3 inches each, $317 CAD

"Fingal's Cave", 13 canvases, 3x3 inches each, $317 CAD

"Invasive Family Tree", 24 canvases, 6x6 inches each, $1640 CAD

"Mayflies", 9 canvases, 4x4 inches each, $488 CAD

"The Instability of Memory", 16 canvases, 10x10 inches each, $2440 CAD

"A Universe Inside Me", 18 canvases, 4x4 inches each, mounted on panel 30x24 inches, $776 CAD

Abstracts - some of these are painted to a particular song, the lyrics of which inform the title. These are my visual/emotional interpretation of the stories in the songs. Others are my interpretation of a feeling.

"Tree of Life 2", 15x30 inches, $650 CAD

"Blue 1: A Meditation on Phosphorescence", 30x24 inches, $920 CAD

"Do You See Me? (Does Anyone Care?)", 16x40 inches, $952 CAD

"Green 1: A Meditation on Phosphorescence", 36x24 inches, $1064 CAD

"Keep Your Eyes Open, Mama; We're Almost Home", 16x20 inches, $520 CAD

"Sit With Me and Watch the Sun Yellow Behind the Smoke", 4x12 inches, $248 CAD

"Drink Before the War", 20x24 inches, $680 CAD

"Sun Setting on the Avenue 2", three canvases, 4x12 inches each, $344 CAD

"Up Behind and Away Again", 3 canvases, 12x24 inches each, $1280 CAD

Vegetation - all oil on canvas. I don't paint these much anymore, but sometimes I just need a little joy!

"Thank You for Sheltering Me 3", 36x48 inches, $1928 CAD

"Spring Came Early and Surprised the Bluebells 4", 36x24 inches, $1064 CAD

"Cherry Blossoms 1, 2, 3", 3 canvases, 15x30 inches each, $1550 CAD

"You Opened Your Eyes Like the Morning", 20x24 inches, $680 CAD
"It Was in the Time of Dancing Leaves that You Were Born", 24x24 inches, $776 CAD

Portrait Commissions - hire me to create a graphite, oil or acrylic portrait of you or your loved one. Having a portrait painted is an experience as much as an outcome. Price includes a photo-shoot with me: You get some photos, and I get to know the subjects I'm working with, which makes the portrait much more accurate and meaningful. Pricing ranges from about $500 to $1000, depending on size and photoshoot.

All of the following images are privately owned. None are for sale!


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Disinformation and meanness. What is going on?!

"Escaping the Nest" (detail)  E. van Lidth de Jeude

It just hit me that maybe ten years ago I was worried about the rise of misinformation on social media. I saw it once in a while; people posting things from known biased sources, or just stating information they assumed was correct but wasn’t. Extensive fact-checking became more necessary than I had felt it was, before, since even trusted sources seemed infiltrated with presumption and error. Or maybe I was just becoming more aware. 

Recently, though, it feels like disinformation is the norm, and complicated with some serious cruelty. On the bigger social media groups I’m a part of (chicken-keeping, canning, foraging, mushrooms, birds, education, etc.) it’s just absolutely normal for somebody to post a question and receive 30–70% wrong answers. It seems people have just become accustomed to stating an uneducated guess as fact. (And seriously — for canning, foraging, mushrooms, chickens, and schooling, this can lead to disaster, for example when someone asks for ID on a poisonous mushroom, and half the responses say it’s edible, and most of the other half are phallus jokes.) And then there are the people berating each other, not just for being wrong, but for correcting the mistakes, as well. Or for totally unrelated things. Like when said phallus jokes become linked to anti-trans attacks. It gets awful out there.

THEN there’s the morality war. There is a propensity for people (mostly white men, I’m sorry to say), to stick their uneducated opinions into posts about LGBTQ2IA+, indigenous, children’s rights, women’s rights, and BIPOC issues… again, as facts. Many of these “facts” are colonial constructs held by our society because they keep white men in power (and because the rest of us think they ensure our continued prosperity). But many are now also just lies made up by conspiracy theorists (like all the supposed chemical, psychological and media conspiracies to make our kids gay or trans or supportive of minority rights…) Sure, there are many sides to every story, but some things are actually not happening. I’m not even getting into the massive quagmire of people in power (often leaders of large corporate enterprises, politicians and religious leaders) using minorities as stepping-stones to more power. Some of us use these crimes as security for our privilege, without ever questioning ourselves.

In my art life this takes shape as criticism and fear: Am I appropriating symbols that are proprietary to a marginalized group that I’m not a member of? Rainbow spectra and feathers were important in my work before I became aware of appropriation, and it’s been hard to sideline them, even though I know how important it is. Even harder was the bickering between artists and members of the LGBTQ2IA+ and BIPOC communities. Oh yeah, and the outright hate-filled rhetoric between some feminists of different stripes. These issues make communicating online really fraught, even without the added question of misinformation or disinformation.

What is going on?! Why is our culture disintegrating into this kind of nastiness and ignorance? As a long-time unschooling parent who notices the lack of this behaviour in the unschooling groups, it’s easy to feel like it might have some kind of relationship with our education system. Especially since unschooling mindset is one of curiosity, acceptance and learning, and unfortunately the compulsory, competitive nature of our school system can provoke a rebellion against curiosity and learning, as well as a propensity for bullying tactics. The rebellion against understanding and the bullying are apparent in a lot of the online attacks I’ve seen. But I think that, in the bigger picture, there’s a deeper reason. We’re experiencing a massive cultural shift. Our minds are opening. And that’s just messy.

We’re threatened from all angles as climate change changes every single foundation our cultures were built on (predictability of seasons, harvests, weather, migration, and therefore employment, finances, housing, healthcare, and even cultural norms). So in this state of growing societal panic, some people are trying to keep things as they were (ignoring the fact that the great majority of underprivileged people have already been suffering these unpredictabilities forever). Some are taking opportunities to fight for rights long-denied to them. Some, like me, are gleefully running headlong into the change, wanting to create a new and better world out of the chaos, and ALL of us are rather ungrounded in the process. There’s so much change, so much fear and threat, that we’re all just kind of scrabbling for understanding all the time. I guess it’s not surprising that a lot of people are confused about the facts, in this kind of chaos! I am too. Everything seems to take so much research now! And patience, tact, and caution! And in the rush of this change, and the feeling of urgency everywhere, it’s not surprising we don’t feel we have time to fact-check or to come to an understanding of the issues we’re talking about before making assumptions and proclamations. 

So it’s frustrating, and sometimes even extremely upsetting, when people resort to cruelty because they feel threatened or inadequate in the face of such big unfathomable change. But it’s necessary that we remain patient and kind, reminding ourselves that these actions are a part of our societal growth. And I’m choosing to see it as a great sign that big change is happening. As a woman with many friends and family in marginalized communities, I’m glad to see my own and other people’s rights have a chance to be respected. As a person living on earth, I’m glad we are making changes that might make our future survivable! Maybe we can all take deep breaths and remind ourselves that everybody is confused and frightened. And maybe saying lots of wrong things is part of our process. We’re learning to learn and communicate! Real learning with an open heart and mind is how we will adapt to our new civilization. It’s how we will all grow to meet the challenge of a world none of us have lived in, before.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

10 Ways to Save Humanity Even if You Can't March on Sept 15th

As the death-toll from Libya’s storm floods surpasses eleven thousand, and various hurricanes march their ways across the oceans, people all over the world are gearing up to March to End Fossil Fuels, tomorrow. (Find your city’s event on this map.)

painting of person standing on a log in a lake with apocalyptic fire in the distance
Not a Thing Between Me and You (detail) … Recent painting by Emily van Lidth de Jeude, in response to Neil Young’s song, “Overhead”. This painting deals with our compulsion to just keep going into an unknown future, together, even when we don’t know we’re not alone. It’s about courage.

But what if we can’t march? And even if we can, how are we going to propel this impetus into action? How are we going to actually save our future on this planet? (Let’s face it, we’re not going to another planet, and instead of talking about “our children’s future” now, we’re talking about our own.) We’ve got months or a couple of years to turn this around, and even if we do, storms like this are now here to stay. So what can we do about it?

  1. Become resilient.
    We can stop following the status quo, and learn to live differently than our youths and the media told us to. Learn to cook our own food. Learn to pivot our careers and plans and housing situations as needed, and without being traumatized. Adaptable creatures survive.
  2. Make our kids resilient. 
    So you might know I usually write about unschooling. That was (and still is) my effort to raise resilient, independent, capable adults. And it worked! At 18 and 21, my kids are now living independently (together), paying their own way, and making changes for a better world. 
    Unschooling isn’t the only way to make our kids resilient. Any kind of freedom to explore and develop their own skills will help. As will encouraging schools to opt for explorative learning, wilderness education, and all the things that will help our kids be connected, creative, courageous, and resourceful. Those are the skills our kids will need to survive our new world.
  3. Grow food.
    Whatever we can do, whether it’s growing sprouts on our kitchen counters to save $10/week in veggies, or escaping the rat race to go whole-hog on a homestead — just do it. We can all (and yes I mean all) grow at least some of our food. This not only saves money (if we learn from someone else who’s doing it effectively and don’t fall for sales tactics for all the gadgets we don’t need), it also brings us closer to our food, giving us a deeper understanding of life, our bodies, our connection to the ecology we live in, and nutrition. It’s healthier for us (fresher food), and it’s also healthier for the environment, since everything we grow (sustainably) ourselves is something we don’t buy from the unsustainable agricultural industry.
  4. Buy local.
    For all those foods and other things we can’t grow or make, ourselves, we can buy local! I guarantee you there is somebody out there trying to get rid of a bunch of homegrown zucchinis or apples right about now. What if we paid them instead of a big supermarket chain? What if we bought from local farmers, builders, and creators instead of from the capitalist industries that are the root of climate change? This is a shift we can make.
  5. Don’t buy! Boycott capitalism.
    Buying local is one way of sidestepping the corporations who are doing the most damage, but buying less is an even better way. A big part of our problem is overpopulation, and then there’s overconsumption. We really don’t need all the stuff. We don’t need big houses. We don’t need big cars, we don’t need lots of clothing or school supplies or travel or household items. We don’t even need as much food as we currently consume, and we especially don’t need to be wasting as much food as we do through restaurant and supermarket refuse, and simple neglect at home. How many times do people go on a fabulous vacation and then declare they need a vacation from their vacation? What if we just took a local vacation in the first place — one that doesn’t displace people from rental accommodation, and that connects us with our homes in ways we hadn’t experienced, before? In the space that’s left without the things that we don’t *actually* need, we will learn to find convenience, fulfillment and joy. We will have space to keep building that resilience and resourcefulness I mentioned earlier.
  6. Be happy with less.
    Along with resilience and resourcefulness comes happiness. It is just plain so rewarding to grow my own food! I go out every day now and tend my chickens, weed a bit of veggie garden, eat some food right off the plants, and just generally revel in a lifestyle that I once found daunting. I feel empowered by my mended clothing in a way I don’t feel empowered by something brand new. I now have some serious disabilities, and learning to be resilient and resourceful has made me happy, similarly to how my job working with kids used to make me feel.
  7. Love our local ecology.
    Partly the joy I get is from being active in my local ecology (also similarly to when I worked with kids on wilderness exploration)! I have learned so much about how connected we are; am currently fascinated with the many types of wild bees and other insects that frequent my small yard, and with their life’s work and activities that all contribute to the diversity we depend on. How does this love save our world? By connecting us with it. If we love our ecology, we’ll know it better, and the more we know and love, the greater ability we’ll have to protect it. We need our ecology. If only for the simple reason that it feeds us and protects us from storms. That in its diversity it will recover when we finally do turn the trend of climate change around.
  8. Love our neighbours.
    We’ve got a couple of new neighbours recently. We’re making an effort to connect with them. You know why? Because when the power goes out, when a tree falls across the road, when someone’s pipes freeze or someone needs any kind of help at all — or just a hug, we will be there for each other. When the storms come, we’ll need each other.
  9. Love our children.
    Obviously. Because the hell that we’re going to experience pales deeply against the hell that our kids will know. If we love them, we need to save them.
  10. Just love.
    And when it’s all too much, when we’re succumbing to doubt and fear and a feeling that nothing we do could possibly be enough, we can love. If I’m going to die, I want to do it in the arms of someone who loves me. And more importantly, I’m far less likely to die early if I share a deep love. Our future and neighbours and children and the whole global population is more likely to thrive if we live a life of love instead of material acquisition. 

Love is actually a hard thing to do. So I’ll tumble out of my list now, just to write a little about love. Love is a challenge. It’s like a great wave piling up behind us, saying …RUN! And can we do it? Can we keep going even when the wave is catching our ankles? Can we slog through the wash around our waists, grasping at the ungraspable wind, to haul ourselves out when the wave peters out, and get up and run again before the next wave comes? That’s love. It’s work. Neverending, challenging, heartbreaking impossible work. But it’s also the only thing that’s worth working for. Love is, in many ways, survival. When love (of a person, planet, dream, or future) compels us, we can access the resilience, courage, creativity, and resourcefulness needed to meet all the challenges. Climate change included. 

So whether or not you can join a climate march tomorrow, do something. Something that will make you feel empowered and resilient. Something that will save us, tomorrow. And tomorrow? Do something again!

With love,