© 2019 WhiteFeather Hunter.

KLONDIKE OSTEOBIOGRAPHIES, 2015

The Klondike Osteobiographies project includes (audio) storytelling, organic media sculpture and web-based interactivity with abandoned objects. This project was completed while in residence at the Klondike Institute of Art & Culture in Dawson City, Yukon and responded to the local landscape, cultural history and mythology of the Dawson City area. Using locally-sourced biomaterials such as animal intestine from the butcher, artificial bones were biomimetically constructed of textile structural scaffolds with mineral crystal growth.

The ‘bones’ are accompanied by text-based osteobiographies (narratives or bone stories recorded as audio clips) that reference and mutate the existing stories, mythologies and histories of this specific location in the Yukon. These stories were collected person-to-person by the artist, and then retold. This project reflects an interest in psychogeography (affective space) and how existing spaces can be altered through the intervention of uncanny objects abandoned in public/ nature.

This project was funded by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), as well as in-kind support provided by the Klondike Institute for Art & Culture and Parks Canada.

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IZBUSHKA (study), 2013

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TERATOMA, 2012

size and materials

A teratoma is a tumour type that contains different tissue and organ variations, and can include hair, teeth, bone, limbs, eyeballs, torsos, hands or feet. The word teratoma is derived from the Greek word, teras, meaning ‘monster’. Teratomas come from undeveloped embryo cells, and can have partial spines or even a rudimentary beating heart, all indications that it is actually an unformed twin, or a parasitic twin.

Do these little, frustrated monsters have feelings? How would it feel to be the loser in the genetic game of reproduction? The metaphorical implications include the normal human experiences of suffering unmet potential, being held back, suspended, restricted, and never allowed to become what one dreams of being. This teratoma, a grotesque representation of when human potential goes wrong, speaks to embracing failure, and accepting thwarted dreams and undesired results as a not-so-uncommon part of being alive.

This work was created specifically for the exhibition, Boxed In! (Denis Longchamps, curator) at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery (NL) and The Gallery of the Crafts Council of Newfoundland and Labrador.

HOMME FATALE, 2010

found/mixed media, including black bear jaw, human hair, recycled fur, fabric, beeswax, found mannequin stand

52" x 18" x 13.5"

The wax cast face and ear used in this sculpture were created by Damien Worth and surrendered to the artist to work with as part of the Out of Purgatory exchange project between Eastern Edge Gallery (NFLD), Peake Street Studios (PEI) and Gallery Connexion (NB). Homme Fatale was featured on the cover of the exhibition catalogue, to accompany the exhibitions held at Confederation Centre Art Gallery (PEI), Gallery Connexion (NB) and Eastern Edge Gallery (NFLD).

SALMONIDAE HISPIDUS, 2009

size,

Human hair, fiberglass, steel, Persian lamb, acrylic paint, beads, upholstery sewing needle, waxed linen.

Collection of Gallery 78, Fredericton.

In the recesses of the collective unconscious, there is a vague historical memory of a furry fish. In the time of circus sideshow dime museums, one could expect to find such a rare beast on display, carefully crafted by a clever backwoods taxidermist interested in fabricating folklore. Such hoaxes or unnatural curiosities were commonplace as colonial Canada was still establishing itself as a nation.

The furry fish, also known as the hairy trout, beaver trout, sable trout, etc is a fictitious monstrosity, said to have evolved fur over its scales in order to protect it from a cold, northern climate. No such fish exists, but faux taxidermy examples still exist, in places such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums. Up until the 1930s, one such creature existed on display in the Scottish National Museum as an authentic example of an odd Canadian species of fish, purportedly captured by a fisherman from Gaspé.

Recalling such a myth, this rare species is a pseudo-replica of a taxidermist’s hoax, pretend-native to New Brunswick waters. A ‘hispid’ is an animal that features naturally occurring coarse hair.

Salmonidae hispidus was created for the Gallery Connexion fundraising initiative, Salmon Run.

Salmon Run was supported by the City of Fredericton through the Heritage Canada Cultural Capitals 2009 program. Twenty-five different artists were selected by jury to create an original work using a fabricated Fiberglass salmon form produced by Fabinex. The completed works were exhibited from June - October 2009, first at UNB's Hugh John Flemming Forestry Complex, then at different selected businesses in downtown Fredericton and finally culminating in an auction event at Gallery Connexion. Salmonidae hispidus was purchased by Gallery 78, and subsequently displayed long-term at the Fredericton YFC airport.

MY PRETTIES, 2007-08

Found/mixed media, including animal carcass, human hair, various fabrics and twine, beeswax, vintage textiles, misc. refuse, antique objects.

Most of the works range in scale from

This body of work explores areas of meaning where creativity, spirituality/magic and corporeality overlap, stemming from an investigation into the athropological categories of magic. These categories represent the different ways by which various human cultures have attempted to understand and control life/death and body/spirit.

One particular fascination that informed the work was the persistence of superstition and its symbolism despite an increasingly scientific awareness of the world, and where science/medicine fails to meet human psycho-spiritual needs. The philosophic dichotomies between mind and body that often predominate religious doctrine generally stand apart from the projected irrational (and rational) fears around physical mortality. These fears occur universally in the practical lives of people, and are interrelated notions in this work, particularly how disembodied human hair and other discarded body parts violate cultural codes about the health, safety and protection of life and spirit.

My Pretties includes twelve infant-sized ‘dolls’, vulnerable human representations that are composed of hair, bone, animal body parts, beeswax, string, cloth/clothing and other found materials. Drawing on traditions of folk magic and/or religion, the works aim to give questionable new ‘life’ to abandoned or discarded artifacts of humanity and its culture.

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CLEW, 2005

Handspun human hair, beeswax, handspun merino/ human hair blend, found rocks, found antique wooden netting shuttle, found antique block (pulley).

Hair Net: 11.5' x 10' x 10" (installed)

Pull Cord: 28' long

Cable Home: approx. men's Large, various dimensions depending on installation

Secret: approx. 3' x 3' x 3'

*see detailed descriptions of each work following the image panel.

In this body of work, an interest in identity and language centres on ‘place’ as an area for the investigation of cultural psyche. Having grown up in a maritime culture, the artist felt inspired to work on a series of pieces that would evoke the mythical and etymological crossovers between textile making and storytelling by men at sea. Following one of the invisible threads between text and textiles by symbolically referring to the ‘spinning of yarns’, particularly feminine-specific myths, she intertwined these references with the literal act of textile production employed by sailors and fishermen for practical reasons: the making of rope, knotting, netting and knitting. The use of (mostly) women’s hair as the main fibre conjures references to female sexual power as portrayed in archetypes familiar to a life experience at sea (mermaids, sea hags, etc.), generated by longing.

These pieces dissect notions of binding, both literal and emotional — the ways in which humans symbolically possess objects of desire through tangible and intangible means in order to bridge the divide between fantasy & reality, and locate that thread to the essential self.

This project was generously funded by Canada Council for the Arts, artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board) and the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation.

HAIR NET

Handspun, waxed and netted human hair. Over 40 heads of donated hair used in the making.

CABLE HOME

Handspun merino wool and human hair, handknit into a traditional Irish cabled sweater.

Knit patterns traditionally served as a symbolic language, with different Aran cable patterns signifying different clan names. Sailors and fishermen wore knit sweaters in their family names so that if they were lost at sea, their otherwise unidentifiable bodies could be named, once found. The use of women's hair in the yarn used to make this pseudo-artifact suggests the presence of the womenfolk and loved ones on shore, who hoped that their men would safely return home: folklore tells of women knitting their own hair into the sweaters as a charm against harm.

PULL CORD

Pull Cord comes from a childhood story about three witches who caused storms at sea. These witches tied knots in rope as a spell to create storms that ranged in severity from a light rain to a full-blown tempest. Each sequential knot in the rope would increase the storm’s power. Pull Cord has three knots. The knots also, of course, reference the nautical term for speed. This 28 ft long hair rope indicates that the potential levels of storm at sea are beyond imaginable, becoming mythic in proportion.

 

The first 14 ft of the rope consist of 42 plies of handspun human hair yarn, and the last 14 ft are made of dreadlocks stitched end to end into three cords and then braided.

SECRET

Painstakingly piled, round beach boulders, netted with handspun and waxed human hair and wool yarn.

A one-time site-specific installation at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre.

Built based on a story told to the artist by her grandmother: that she had secrets she would take with her to the grave, and a consideration of the weight of such things. This piece was also meant to reference old cairns, traditional grave markers often found on hills overlooking the sea.

CONTAGION POPPETS, 2005

Found/mixed media, including animal carcass, bone, human hair, various fabrics and twine, beeswax, vintage textiles, misc. refuse, antique objects.

Most of the works range in scale from

 

These works encompass spiritual taboos surrounding the practice of contagion magic, in a study of organic "poppets". Imbued with magical properties (helpful or sinister), the dolls resonate with loose creative process in a representation of folk charms, and draw the viewer into an interior place of mystery/ fear.

 

These works expose the kinds of superstition and paranoia experienced around disembodied matter. Giving hair, carcass and other organic waste new bodies amplifies its power of presence, which must be reckoned with by ones own understanding of spirituality and corporeality.

There were approximately 75 poppets created in total, most of which were purchased for private collections.

Selected exhibitions/ publications:

Contagion Poppets were exhibited at Sunbury Shores Arts + Nature Centre in Saint Andrews-by-the-Sea, NB as part of Mer/Mere with Janice Wright Cheney, Denise Richard and Linda Brine; at the George Fry Gallery, NBCCD, Fredericton, NB as part of the inaugural, solo exhibition, Beautiful/Grotesque; at Struts Gallery, Sackville, NB as part of The Sweetest LIttle Thing fundraiser, and were published in ellipse Magazine (QC and NB), Green Banana magazine (Humber College, Toronto), HereNB magazine.

Pull Cord, detail

Solo exhibition, George Fry Gallery, NBCCD, Fredericton, NB.