Clarissa M Lewis


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Video Viewing Notes:

The video Return is the companion piece to Reflection, a site specific sculpture installation. (First installation 2005, offthemap Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Second  installation, 2009 W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery, North Bay, Ontario, Canada)

As a child I spent a great deal of time alone with my thoughts. Thinking was a wonderful companion and I became intrigued by its workings. The organizing principle which underpins "thinking" is organic, rooted in our biological heritage and I believe, has a spiritual aspect. The experience of living gradually adds idiosyncratic architectural elements built from organic materials and perceptions until, for each of us, the entire process is an elaborate, complex, unique and constantly evolving conglomeration. ‘Reflection’ is an interpretation of what thinking might look like if it had a physical presence. Link to image of Reflection. (please close image to return to this page)

After the inaugural gallery exhibition ‘Reflection’ was rebuilt outdoors; partly out of curiosity and partly to consider the impact of the two different environments on the meaning of the work.  In the gallery environment, the intention is that the ‘work of art’ acts upon the exhibition space to engage the viewer and to elicit a response.  The artist has a strong role in this relationship.  When ‘Reflection’ was installed outdoors it rapidly became apparent that the artist’s intention is irrelevant. The camera and I became  witness to a process, a kind of negotiation and dance as nature began to take its course, to confiscate and to impose its own intentions as it choreographed the return. 

Not long into the documenting process a powerful metaphor was being created. The text pieces tacked to the fence recording the stream of thoughts weathered and tore, the chalk faded to disappear as if the thoughts had never existed. But the ground or holder or vehicle for the expression of the thoughts, the painted canvas, gave the impression that it would last much longer, a residue of a particular stream of thoughts in the world.

The transformation of the tree limbs, as they stood,  first  apart from and then gradually submitting to the impact and demands of the natural world, is an exquisite allegory of the inevitability of transformation and transcendence. During the period of documentation, my father-in-law was dying and I saw startling parallels in the two journeys.  I was unable to photograph the black fungus invading the tree branches, so powerful was the impact of  the fungus’ identical appearance to the advancing cancer lesions on my father-in-law’s skin.  At that moment time and space seemed suddenly to fold, accelerating a recognition or possibly simply bringing a deep subconscious understanding about the power of transformation and the inevitability of it into consciousness.

In an attempt to express what thinking might look like if it had a visible presence composed of  biological, spiritual and architectural  elements, it became imperative that the documentation of ‘thinking’s’ transformation in its 'return' complete the work. Offering the two together, sculpture installation and documentation of its return, invites a broader and deeper engagement and interpretation than would be possible if Reflection were presented alone in a culturally constructed environment.

With deep appreciation: music by permission of Real World Records: Kothbiro (performed by Ayub Ogada from the CD: En Mana Kuoyo)

Copyright Notice: All images, sound and texts are copyrighted and may not be copied, stored, used or adapted in any way, by any means mechanical or otherwise without prior written consent.

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with appreciation to the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Granting Program

recommender:  Linda Jansma, Curator Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada