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  • Writing by Tait Wilman


I create work to explore my own identity and the way I identify myself as a Canadian artist. I have an interest in creating work that perpetuates a notion of national pride and what that means to me. I use symbols and stereotypes to demonstrate the accomplishments of this nation even though these accomplishments are often humorous to other nations. However I believe Canadians take pride in these symbols and identify with them creating a sense of self. Creating items such as badges demonstrates how I believe we take pride in these achievements and feel competitive and a need to prove our selves. I use humor as an access and entry point for my work. Humour is a relatable entry point that presents the viewer with comfortable opportunities to indulge clichés by adding a friendly and inviting approach, which are attributes of Canadians. Humour allows there to be an open conversation between my individual identity, national identity and how the viewer relates to these discussions. While exploring these ideas and concepts I produce work that clearly favours and values the handmade. This allows for my process to be evident and the importance of the hand to be clear to the viewer. This provides the aesthetic and tactile qualities I am drawn to that create associations to nostalgia, memorabilia, heirlooms, collectables, the domestic craft and folk art.

For me the making of my work allows me to personalize the objects by spending time working on them to project my own touch and aesthetic into the objects. Creating by hand allows for flaws and adds a sense of sincerity and endearing notions. I create work by hand patching together composite creations that use craft media such as embroidery, sewing and creating patterns, and natural materials including wood, sticks, logs and tumbleweeds for myself to communicate intimacy. Expressing and exploring my own personal identity and creating works on a small scale allow myself to be intimate with my touch during the creation.

The mix of kitsch, handmade and vintage is an aesthetic that inspires me. I believe it presents my work with contemporary filters that can inform the viewer’s level of engagement. By flirting with hipster trends and specifically Etsy aesthetics I am knowingly using the familiar to foster associations with high and low references. Decorating and embellishing manifests through my attention to detail and meticulous process from carefully snipping ribbons, stitching, layering, arranging to finally be displayed neatly. My work has relations to universal trends around the return to the handmade and artisanal goods. The return to one of a kind and small batch goods comes with the interest to feel connected to the natural and domestic. Living in a world surrounded by mass production and consumption is over whelming and I yearn to have a connection to the earth that provides us with our needs. Handmade goods provide a sense of community and human connection versus the isolated experience of mass production. I use my work to create a connection and an escape to the natural world even when I’m in an urban massproduced environment.

The combination of these influences results in my creation of pieces that reference the home, craft and the return to the handmade. Creating whimsical, detailed and cheeky pieces demonstrates my own take of the Canadian identity and allows myself to explore the glamorization of Canadiana and nationality. Canada has a culture created by our pastimes and an identity given to us through stereotyping. I have a personal connection to these stereotypes that construct my own identity and I take pride in my nationality. Playing off domestic and museum display cultures allows for discussions between high and low references which helps me achieve my goal of creating a casual setting for the work and the viewer. I hope that my practice allows the viewer to evaluate how they perceive their own individual identity in relation to universal stereotyping. Also how they embody stereotypes and observing how they relate to the subcultures I hint to in my practice.

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