Artists – like ecosystems – work with the imagination and know that it is a real force that can incite productive transformations. Intensified aliveness always amounts to greater self-expression and deepened poetic experience ... Each artistic act is an act of aliveness. It cannot be demonstrated or represented; it can only be shared.
An unhurried dream
As a settler Canadian, I was privileged to grow up in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee nations in south-central Ontario, generous landscapes of rippling lakes and rustling, whispering woods. Immersed in rural and wild places and encouraged by our parents to daydream and play in a flowing state of timelessness, my sister and I were naturally filled with wonder and love for the living, breathing earth. What children wouldn’t be?
As I grew older and awakened to the painful reality of accelerating ecological destruction and my implicit role within in, I longed to somehow participate in healing and restoration. I loved learning and studied broadly – literature, anthropology, visual art, ecology – but I truly lit up when I discovered ethnobotany, the study of relationships between people and plants.
The medicine of good relationship
For many years, I focused my ethnobotanical studies on the traditional uses of wild medicines. Through undergraduate and graduate degrees and immersive apprenticeships with folk herbalists, I explored flows of reciprocity between people and healing plants in the Pacific Northwest and Appalachian bioregions. I saw plant communities thrive when honoured and tended by knowledgeable gatherers, and human communities thrive when cared for by the plants. My research and field work culminated in my Schumacher College MSc. thesis "Embodied belonging: wild-harvesting explored as a restorative practice".
As I continue to grow my own roots and deepen my participation with the entangled life of the beautiful Missisquoi watershed, traditional territory of the W8banaki Nation, my trust in the essential medicine of good relationship grows too.
Over time, my focus has gradually expanded from medicinal plants to weaving plants, and the rich cultures and long histories of basketry. After almost two decades of weaving on a Saori loom with fibres collected from animals – sheep, goats, yaks, alpacas, silkworms – it’s exhilarating to integrate more botanical fibres and dyes into my textiles, and to create sculptural vessels from foraged and cultivated basketry plants.
The slow practices of harvesting, cleaning, dyeing and weaving fibres from local flora and fauna are humbling and meditative, sources of continual learning and delight.