Michelle MacKinnon, Artist – Corner Brook, NL
Michelle MacKinnon is an artist and educator currently residing in Corner Brook, Newfoundland & Labrador. Her exhibition (em)brace is currently on display at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s until February 22. She is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Grenfell Art Gallery in Corner Brook and has an upcoming solo exhibition there titled in an absent existence in May 2020.
Understanding what home is to me feels like a search for stability, a search for an anchor to be still for an extended period of time. I think the concept of home is an ever-evolving, restless, and elusive notion consisting of many layered collections, both physical and remembered, that tend to accumulate in a domestic space. From living in fifteen different homes in the past four years, I think that one becomes more sentimental and intentional about what is brought to make a house a temporary home. Having handmade textiles around me provides a connection to memories and current understandings of home; a reminder that, as they depend on each other to exist, the self and home are inseparable.
- Pease pudding & turnip greens
I have never been enamoured by and attached to place quite as much as I am with Newfoundland. I am constantly in awe of its landscape, whether it be a hike in Lark Harbour or the mountains and bay on my commute to work. But what solidifies this attachment most is the people I have met: those who have made sure I was never alone on a holiday, who included me in their traditions. Everyone who lent me their dad’s snow pants on hikes, who gave me handknit socks from the Cash’n’Carry, who invited me to countless shows, adventures, and suppers. Every family who laughs and encourages me when I go up for my third helping of pease pudding and turnip greens.
- Repetitious labour
Mimicking the way in which knit is constructed, my process is repetitious in its method and nature. The repetition of small areas, such as stitches, is not only a way to work meditatively and mindfully, but also a way to indulge in detail within a drawing and a way to find constructive control through making.
- Makers Nights
Getting to know the community I am currently a part of is a priority when I move to a new place, and my favourite way of doing this is through holding Makers Nights. During my residency at Union House Arts in Port Union, Newfoundland, I worked with director Jane Walker to help organize Makers Nights at UHA, inviting the surrounding community to come work on whatever they were making, have conversations, and engage in the new arts space. During my residency at the Grenfell Art Gallery, I am hosting bi-weekly BYO UFOs (Bring Your Own UnFinished Object) for the community, starting up again on January 23.
I first learned how to knit (poorly) from my older cousin, and it was in my family home, curled up in my favourite burnt orange rocking chair, where my twelve-year-old self started and abandoned so many oblong scarves. I picked up knitting again this summer and was amazed that my hands still remembered the motions, and that knitting can be, at the same time, a productively mindful and mindless pastime. Since, I have knit many socks, as well as successfully finished and accidentally shrank my first sweater.