Originally Exhibited: April 3rd-25th, 2017
Portals, the CVAC Centre for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Duncan, British Columbia
Exhibit Colour Catalog: Preview or Purchase
Exhibit Interviews & Overview:
CBC BC News: Pulling at Threads interview
CBC Radio: All Points West interview
Shaw TV Interview/Video: Video with artist
Chemainus Courier:October 2017 Interview
CHEK News: TV Interview - Oct 2017
The Healing Cloth Workshop: Details - PDF
Adoptee Resources: Details - PDF
Interview with Lydia Faithfull (Broadly):
Exhibit Artist Statement:
Artist News Release: For immediate release
This exhibit chronicles an adoptee's search for her true identity concealed by privacy legislation and a disclosure veto on her birth record. Studies from Statistics Canada on illegitimate births from 1945-1973 show an estimated 350,000 children were put up for adoption by single mothers. The majority of adoptees struggle at some point in their lives with a sense of loss whether it be a through loss of ancestry or through a false sense of identity.
While this exhibit is based on my story, it parallels the experiences of thousands of other adoptees and foster children around the world. The struggle with loss and identity are as real to adoptees today as they were in the mid-1900's.
Through the medium of textiles, this work explores my relationships and experiences - both real and imagined - with my birth family, adoptive family and with my own identity. It also relies on quotes taken from my own adoption record to guide the audience throughout the exhibit. The mix of contemporary and traditional media create a visual and historical juxtaposition that invites the viewer into a conversation about changing attitudes towards adoption.
On the surface, these works are ink on paper, thread on fabric, but at a foundational level, they form the backbone of an adoptee's lifelong search for self. The tangles of thread and fibre embody daily struggles of love, rejection, loss, anger and forgiveness. From a personal standpoint, this body of work defines who I am in this world while also helping me accept, without judgement, the path that brought me here.
Throughout the work, fact and fiction are held in delicate balance, guided by an often false sense of perception of past events. The quotations and historical records establish a timeline for the viewer, while the embroidery and textiles highlight the complexity of relationships and experiences of an adoptee. The tactile textiles also serve to soften the harsh options presented to unwed mothers of a bygone era, options fueled by strongly held societal and religious beliefs. The theme, "Your daughter is in good hands" is used throughout to voice cynicism towards the familiar platitudes spoken by Church and state.
This collection as a whole provides a moving perspective to life transformed by adoption and privacy legislation. Feelings of loss, shame, rejection and fear are captured by each word and thread, drawing together a mother and child whose paths may never cross. The exhibit attempts to bring a sense of closure to the question of "Who am I" through the adoptee's progression of self from conception to adulthood.