Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanks, Ma - A new installation by Barbara Rehus

Mon Ton Window Gallery

402 College Street, Toronto, ON

November 2 – 30, 2011

My thought behind Thanks, Ma was to take a sort of journey to revisit an old line of artistic expression. In past works, my explorations of the theme of motherhood have centred around knitted garments that were made of unwearable materials – sweaters made of cement, glass, wax, matted dog hair. There is a harshness to these materials; a harshness that carries over to the type of mother who would wear such items. Would she be cold, detached? She wouldn’t be huggable. You wouldn’t be able to bury your face in the coziness of her. This time around, I wanted to take a lighter look at motherhood and create a more benign and much softer representation of that most basic and universal of all human relationships. This is my first representation of knitting that most closely resembles something that can be worn, although it still can not be worn.

Thanks, Ma is a kinetic work. Ma is knitting a long scarf that winds around her mobile-like children who are jiggling and dancing about her, hanging off her arms, as she works. The scarf Ma is knitting is made from scraps of yarn of varying texture, colour, type, and purpose. The different scraps of yarn are important because they are representative of all the things mothers have knitted over time as both expressions of love and of the expectations and responsibilities inherent in motherhood. These expectations and responsibilities are held, I believe, by both mothers and their children. I collected the yarn for this piece from all kinds of people – not just mothers – and all kinds of projects; some of which were finished and some of which were never completed. This is important because although we all complete our childhoods, our relationships with our mothers are never finished. And, if we have children ourselves, our relationships with them are, inevitably, never completed. Those relationships are, however, forever interwoven.

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