Monday, July 11, 2011

Epistemological Conundrum p.2

The totem Epistemological Conundrum is an artwork about ways of learning, what we learn and why we learn.

The three figures in the middle of the totempole are aboriginal students. Surrounding them are two eagles, it signifies the students relationship with western education, both historically and contemporary.

One eagle is upside down, on this totempole it is meant to embarrass or humiliate the person or persons whom the figure represents. I mirrored the inverted figure in order to oppose the negative impact of western education. The students balance between the two trying to take what they need, leaving the rest behind, not forgeting, but not dragging it along either.

In non-native interpretations of totempoles the figure on top of the pole is the most important. In actual reality the figure on the bottom of the totempole is the most important (it is the easiest seen). On a nine foot totempole everything is easily seen, so there is less of a hiearchy amongst figures.

I am questioning what I should dwell on, the injustice of our educational history in this country or the opportunities that education now gives us. It's a complicated problem and I haven't yet decided for myself.

Western education was used as a tool for assimilation, is it still?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Epistemological Conundrum

I am in the middle of a two year graduate program at ECUAD, the programs includes a 12 credit summer internship. For my summer internship, I am teaching a directed studies class in the aboriginal gathering place (AGP).

The AGP is attached the the north campus of ECUAD and is a place for Aboriginal students find a sense of community on campus. This project was my idea, though it could not have happened without the work of the aboriginal coordinator Brenda Crabtree. I have three students on this project;



and James.

The only parameters I had for this project was that it had to fit it the AGP and it had to have something to do with education. Fitting it into the AGP was easy enough, I just made the pole 9'.

It took me a while to come up with an idea, mostly because I have mixed feelings about the history of aboriginal peoples education in Canada. Never the less I have an idea that satisfies both my scepticism and enthusiasm, its called Epistemological Conundrum and its an interior house post.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Under One Beat

In april I was approached by the Vancouver childrens Festival to create an interactive sculpture/installation. I had no idea what I would do but I accepted anyway.

At the time I was busy finishing the first year of the Masters of applied arts program at ECUAD. Because of that I didn't even think about the project righht away. A few weeks later on a trip to the Freida Diesing school of Northwest Coast art (I helped fascilitate a drummaking workshop and did a talk about my practice), I came up with an idea.

in my moleskine journal I drew a rough sketch.

Three wooden box drums on a metal base, the drums would face in towards each other and on the outside of each drum would be an archived image of an aboriginal in Vancouver over the last 125 years(the projects funding came from the Vancouver 125 fund).

My plan was to build the box drums myself and commission out the base to a metal worker. Unfortunately I had issues with the metal base and decided a wooden base would be more than sufficiant.

I had another project starting in the middle of May, so I needed a helper who was able to do some light labour work and have some scanning/photo skills. Perfectly suited to the task was my classmate and Newcastle supporter Adam Stenhouse. I managed to get the artwork done 2 days before my deadline (not bad).

Under One Beat, is based on the idea of one drum, in a traditional Nisga'a dance group the idea is to get all the drums to sound like one drum, its about unity. The archived images add another element, I think of the installation as honouring the past.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Phantom Limbs

 ph5 Phantom Limbs is completed. Originally called “52”, it evolved into Phantom Limbs.  My original intention was to carve the small wooden figures over a two year period.  It is a massive project and I thought I could carve each one between other projects.  In the spring of 2010 I was asked to be in the original “pastnow” exhibition with Meryl McMaster, the show was in the graduate gallery of the Ontario College of Art and Design University ( The University of Imagination).  While we were taking down the exhibition I was discussing future projects with Lisa Myers and Suzanne Morrissette.  I mentioned my idea for “52” and they got excited, they said when I complete it, they would like to curate it into a show.  I thought, “ but I don’t even know when its going to be finished.

ph2 A month later Lisa came to me and said pastnow would probably be moving to the Maclaren Art Centre in November and they wanted “Phantom Limbs” (formally 52) for the show.  So instead of carving each figure over a multi year period, I carved all 48 in a six month period, amongst other projects, most notably, Graduate school at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECU).

ph1 A long time ago grave robbers (anthropologists, ethnographers, etc.) descended upon Haida Gwaii, they took over 460 ancestor remains. The remains ended up in museums and private collections all over the world. The purpose of the Haida repatriation project is to return remains and artworks back to the Haida people.

ph3 When a person loses a body part they describe a phenomenon where they can still feel the limb. Their feet get cold; their hands are tingly; they can feel the wind on their fingertips.  When I found out about the Haida repatriation project, I hadn’t even realised our ancestors were being kept in museums and private collections. Phantom Limbs depicts the transition between the ancestors being kept in museums and  being buried in Bentwood boxes on Haida Gwaii.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

pastnow 2.0 @ The Maclaren Art Centre

pastnow1 Pastnow is a double solo exhibition at the Maclaren art centre in Barrie Ontario. The two artists exhibiting are Luke J. Parnell (me) and Meryl McMaster. The show is curated by Lisa Myers and Suzanne Morissette. This show is an evolution of the original Pastnow at the OCAD Graduate gallery in early 2010. We went from one smallish room shared by Meryl and myself to two lavish galleries. The graduate gallery is obviously a student gallery and we were treated well, no complaints, but the Maclaren is a professional art centre and our treatment was exemplary. The Maclaren went above and beyond, I can’t say enough.

pastnow4 Pastnow 2.0 includes all the work in the original pastnow with one new artwork, “Phantom Limbs”. pastnow3 Phantom Limbs had the working title of “52”, it was a merging of two concepts that I wanted to work with. I was interested in working with multiples for some time but couldn’t find the right project and I wanted to create an artwork that told the story of the Haida Repatriation project.

pastnow6 I wrote this post to thank all involved in the Past now exhibition at the Maclaren Art Centre; Meryl McMaster, the talented young photographer who is the other artist in this double solo show; Lisa Myers and Suzanne Morissette the exceptional co-curators; Ben Portis, the enthusiastic and patient head curator at the Maclaren; Niall Donaghy, without whom the show could not have been installed (seriously, this guy is awesome); Carolyn Bell Farrell and others at the Maclaren who were helpful and supportive.