MOTHERLINE: A SELF-PORTRAIT
This body of work was completed during my Master of Fine Arts at York University from 2011-2013.
Motherline: A Self-Portrait MFA exhibition represents my investigation into the lives, memories and experiences of women in my motherline; specifically, my great, great grandmother, Julia Begin (1860-1919); great grandmother, Florence Desjardins (1891-1962); grandmother, Anne Baldasaro (1917-present); mother, Holly Hicks (1951-present) and sister, Ashley McAskill (1987-present) in relation to myself, Carly McAskill (1985-present). The term “motherline” is used to refer to the shared experience when women get together to tell one another stories about female experience: physical, psychological, and historical. I valorize the lives of the women in my motherline through the pleasure I take in dressing up, the idea of being a mother and through the close relationship I maintain with my grandmother, mother and sister. I feel in constant conflict with keeping my artistic career that I have spent years building up and my yearning to eventually become a mother and wife. I want to give my future children a similar childhood experience that I had with my mother growing up. My conflict lives in the truth that I know I will never be happy being a fulltime mother without my own career and passion as a visual artist; I have a fear of my unknown future in how to balance this relationship.
The multi-layered images in my drawings and collage work explore identity through meditation on place, time, presence, and inheritance. I believe in the powers of representation through collage: that is, if I visualize my fears in life, I may be able to cope with them. Anxiety is located in the dense layering that creates a sense of jostling identities, constantly being rearranged in different patterns, unable to be organized into a single stable system. The fragments are significant because they become a tool to tell a story and reflect a pattern. I use fragmentation as a visual strategy and methodology to recognize the instability of identities that are rooted in gender in order to define self within networks of memory, place, family and culture.
Motherline: A Self-Portrait is about going beyond the marking-out of feminine space within the boundaries of rooms and houses into the interior psyche of the women in my family. The artworks are about purposeful marking and the accidental traces that create a dialogue of personal and cultural expressions. I celebrate my familial matriarchy and my foremothers’ lives through storytelling: I speak to a continuity of patterns and practices that locate the past in the present – and the present in the past. Ultimately, the artwork is about shared imagination rooted in lived experience, individual expression, and memory to understand the ‘life-line’, an umbilical cord that connects daughters to mothers.