Everything Is Connected: Panel on Sustainable and Relational Animal Fibre

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Gordon Sparks
Panel Moderator
Carol Collicutt
Janey Chang
Nicole Travers
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About This Event
September 19, 2024
1:30 pm
Fisherman’s Landing Inn
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The four artists in this panel work with materials derived from animals, and used in a good way – that is, in a good relationship with the spirits of the animals who give their lives for humans to create art. Presentations will be followed by a discussion and Q&A with the audience.

The artists in this session all work with notions of death and decay, and the role of art as an interruption in this natural process of connection: from life to death, to decomposition and returning to the earth, and to subsequently feeding new life. Discussions of sustainability must, by definition, allow for this ongoing transformation between life and death – new life cannot emerge in the absence of death and decay.  These connections and processes are natural and desirable and will be discussed in the panel presentations.

Although all the artists bring their best intentions to their practices, in reality, most of the animals used in their work are harvested or slaughtered within our industrial fishing and farming practices. Indigenous artists Gordon Sparks and Nicole Travers also work with hides, pelts, and skins from animals they hunt themselves. Their practices descend from their ancestors and elders and reflect cultural norms of honourable harvesting and hunting, and using all the parts of the animals they take. This includes sustaining themselves and their families through eating the meat of the animals; tanning the hides with materials contained within the animals’ own bodies; and using bone and sinew for artistic materials, tools, and instruments.

Carol Collicutt and Janey Chang also honour the lives and deaths of the animals whose tissues are used in their artistic practices, by rescuing materials that would otherwise go to a landfill and repurposing them in their artwork. These include fish skins and pig gut; and in both cases, in addition to making their own art with the materials used, they share their knowledge and skills with others in a good way.

This panel discussion will question and challenge mainstream notions of sustainability and encourage participants to consider their own assumptions about sustainability and living in a good way.