We Are Lichen | Chelsea Cooke

We Are Lichen

We Are Lichen is a response to the scientific and philosophical theory of the holobiont ー the sum of a living being and all of the micro symbionts living on or within it ー whose study has challenged and disrupted the boundaries that once defined the ‘individual.’ I am drawn to the miracles of evolution, how life came to be and how it evolved from single celled organisms to the collective symbionts we are today. Personally, I found strange comfort in knowing I am not a singular self drifting through space. I am composed of billions of other lifeforms that account for 90% of ‘my’ body; this knowledge instills upon me a feeling of responsibility that extends beyond my own interests.

This ongoing project is so far composed of fifteen ‘golems.’ Each form acts as a vessel for live bacterial cultures that mirror the external and internal holobionts existing in all biological life. 

Please feel free to contact me at chelseamarie.make@gmail.com

Biomorphic Landscapes | Lyndsay McKay

Artist Statement | Lyndsay McKay

Drawing in part, from experiences as a practicing nurse, this body of work explores ways of transforming materials into a gestalt of cellular viscerality – a series of “biomorphic landscapes”, evocative of pathogenic growths, bacterial organisms and marine life. The interstitial spaces become maze-like canals, in a hint toward cardiovascularity and an internal system of highways which carry the regard for vitality and breath; and perhaps a reminder of our own primordial crawl from water. Of further interest, are concepts surrounding the post-human realm, a biologization of the machine and an exploration of how the intersection of biology, architecture and industry can reimagine life on cellular and subcellular levels – thus mapping the constantly evolving dependencies that exist between objects, bodies and environments.

Each latex cell in this work is handheld in place until injected plaster takes shape and hardens within. One fragment relies on the next in order to maintain its strength in position and growth. My own body, my hands and my gesture places each component intuitively. Through this work, I become both factory and machine. I become the biology – inherent and imagined. I become evidence of embodied thought and systematic organization. I become the power plant, the big corporation and the top tier of the hierarchy within a journey of personal insistence over all mechanisms of control, guiding the pattern as it continues to emerge in an empowered and methodical dance.

Over time however, latex becomes thin and fragile. Like waring skin, it begins tear open and fold. The material’s inevitable dehiscence soon exposes its underlying tortured forms; brittle plaster and empty pores, fingerprinted with the notion of memory – powerful traces of time and place – grounded in its own historical precedence and carrying the ephemeral qualities of dust and bone. I am forced to face the reality of the catastrophic moment; the possibility of a landscape without order, without abundance, without personhood or leisure. I am forced to accept an awareness that this may be an accurate depiction of what life already is.



The Vernacular of Construction | Kira Pratt

Kira Pratt’s practice engages with the material history of urban environments, the affect of perpetual renovation and the creation of new spaces via corporate or individual means. Provisional structures, whether made professionally or by amateur builders, are temporary constructions based on functionality over aesthetics. Not commonly considered is the bodily response to existing within close proximity to temporary constructions. It is an uneasiness, a flux, a low anxious hum. The best example of this uneasiness is in how space is partitioned; preliminary fences and dividers prepare a space for what is to come. The space’s current condition is deemed inadequate by the temporary boundaries and a utopic structure can be imagined in its place. Adding to the uneasiness, these divisions lead to the privatization of something once considered public domain; be it a curb-side garden or a vacant lot.

Using concrete, wood, rope and paint skin tarps, the resulting works are translations of these utilitarian structures. Emulating their outside counterparts, the sculptures appear utilitarian but have no distinguishable purpose and through their short stature require attention and caution from the viewer. Both sides of the used ropes can be accessed, leading to multiple unknown futures. It may invite or discourage crossing over, blurring the lines of conventional boundaries.


Fleshy Entanglements | Shay Gavina

Body 1 (Pillar), Body 2 (Grid), Body 3 (Tangle), 2020

Latex, thread, concrete, twine

Fleshy Entanglements is an ongoing series that investigates in-between spaces as sights of transformation, healing, growth, death, and decay. Each body taking up and exploring the roles of the soft, the emotional, the bodily, and the non-binary. 

Artist Statement

In-between spaces and their transitory nature are sights of both transformation, healing, and growth, but also sights of death and decay. My work aims to question, critique, and subvert modernist ideals in favor of the soft, the emotional, the bodily, and the non-binary. I also explore non-linearity: things in flux, shifting, an ambiguous state of neither here nor there. The work I make comes from this interest in the constant shifting, the doing and undoing, of both the inner and outer worlds.


Shay Gavina is an interdisciplinary artist currently focused primarily on sculptural and installation works in the realm of fiber, flexible materials, and repetitive hand-based processes. Her work explores the self in relation to the inner and outer worlds through themes such a mental health. memory, time, modernity, and gendered labor. Straddling the barrier between the familiar and the uncanny, Gavina plays with ideas of temporality, ephemerality, tension, and bodily associations. She currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC.

I will have to clean this up, II | Ada Dragomir

Often grounded in sculpture, video, and performance, my work engages questions of value, and addresses the raced and gendered nature of “production” and “maintenance” acts. My practice relies on the innocuous gestures of everyday life—sweeping, sleeping, repetitive maintenance—brought to life by the power of the absurd, functioning as ambivalent invitations to witness the collapse between the personal and systemic.

My art consciously and skeptically situates itself in traditions of conceptualism because I both decidedly doubt and fervently believe in its power. Underneath its sardonic veneer, this practice is secretly about dreaming up a different future.

This project was awarded the John C. Kerr Chancellor Emeritus Award for Excellence in Visual Arts

I will have to clean this up, II

Pink toilet, hand-fabricated glycerine soap scrub-brush, pulverized charcoal, linseed oil, artist’s body, excerpt from Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” 16:01 min video, audio, 2020.

“I will have to clean this up, II” is a performance-based work which turns productivist and masculine artistic tropes on their heads—using irony and absurdity to point to uncomfortable political realities. This video begins with me vigorously scrubbing a toilet with pulverized charcoal and linseed oil paste—all deeply historied art materials—using a hand-fabricated brush which is destroyed in the process.

After this, I pull my pants down, sit on the dirty toilet, and read an excerpt from a Herman Melville short story titled “Bartleby the Scrivener” about a law clerk who refuses to work. I then proceed to scrub the toilet with soap and water until no visual traces of the labour performed remain. 

In the long tradition of feminist video and performance art, “I will have to clean this up, II” asks viewers to interrogate the raced, classed, and gendered dimensions of labour while concurrently pointing to the complexities of work refusal for racialized and feminized bodies. 

My concern with work and non-productivity is inspired not only by my status as an emerging artist who hustles between cleaning jobs and my final year of art school, but also by the slow process of learning to push back against a deeply ingrained immigrant work-ethic. In the highly precarious survival economies of neoliberal cities like Vancouver, “I will have to clean this up, II” asks viewers to think about the intertwining concerns of labour, both within and beyond the institutions of art. 


video projection, memory foam mattress, wooden stretcher, industrial vacuum bags, used neutrogena face-mask, dust, 8:11 min, 2019.

Self-Sleeping is a silent video projected onto a memory foam mattress. In it, I am scrolling art instagram accounts in bed while my cat, Aphrodite, persistently attempts to be noticed. In the following segment, my body twitches through an unrestful 8 minute time-lapsed sleep. While the mattress has been stretched around a painting frame, the pillows consist of dust-filled industrial vacuum bags—similar to the kind I use during my job as a cleaner. Laying on one pillow is a discarded moisturizing face mask. Self-Sleeping points to the futility of rest. Grind-economies exist in the art world as well as the world of underpaid maintenance labour, and in this harassed and exhausted state, sleep becomes a drudge—only existing as reproductive work—sleeping not to rest, but to prepare oneself for another day’s labour.

I Only Cry After Blockades | Repairing Looking, or The Artist As a Young Camera

Diptych / two channel video, audio, 36:30 min, 2020.

“Why am I here?” “What can art do?” These two questions are repeated on loop in I Only Cry After Blockades as viewers witness my face contort from anguish, to desperation, to cynical calm, to pointed exhaustion.

Filmed immediately after a 36 hour stint without sleep at the Cambie and Broadway barricade in support of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty followed by another 6 sleepless hours spent installing work for a frustrating and meaningless classroom critique, these questions point to shared experiences of failure, frustration, and futility, as well as to the long shadow of spectacle in overtly “political” art. I Only Cry After Blockades also acknowledges the truth of being a racialized person in a corporate institution like Emily Carr University. How are we allowed to inhabit the fullness of ourselves as people and as artists in spaces which by their very nature centre apolitical whiteness, champion words over action, and are invested in vacant gestures—a politic of optics? How much can the institution(s) of art really hold?

In Repairing Sight, or The Artist As A Young Camera, we see gentle long shots of every single surveillance camera on the Emily Carr University campus interspersed with the disembodied artist’s hand attempting to “fix” a reflective tube. Repairs are done by inserting various items like highlighters, chopsticks and long bits of paper, all failed attempts to write something on the sides of the tube. This almost 40 minute video is informed by my reading of Shoshana Zuboff’s book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, and Bruce Nauman’s 1697 neon work The Artist Helps The World By Revealing Mystic Truths. While the piece is made in the spirit of irony, at its core are questions about art labour, the impact of surveillance capitalism, and the role of the artist themselves in attention economies.


beeswax and fiber-optic cable
2.5″ x 5.25″ x 2.25″, 2019.

Inspired in part by sheer exhaustion, in part by Johnathan Crary’s book on round-the-clock capitalist productivism, and in part by the idiom “burning the candle at both ends,” this sculptural work posits sleep as the final frontier—the last remaining stretch of time from which no shopping experience or labour can be extracted.

A riff on the joke of capitalist monetization of self-care practices and products, these candles are both remedy and malady in one.


Born shortly before the tumult of the Romanian revolution, and currently living as a guest on unceded Coast Salish Territory, Ada Dragomir works across media feeling most at home somewhere between spoofed youtube videos and serious sculptural objects. By harnessing the power of absurdity and irony to point to uncomfortable political realities, her practice primarily addresses questions of productivity, value, and labour. A recent graduate of Emily Carr University (BFA 2020), Dragomir has participated in several exhibitions and curatorial projects including curating Ritual Union at the RBC Media Commons Gallery, addressing the political implications of technology on the body. Most recently, she exhibited a solo show titled Against Working as part of the 2020 Capture Photography Festival. Dragomir has been published in Femme Art Review and Woo Magazine, and she finds immense pleasure in reading and writing as avenues for creative expression.

Hindsight | 2020 | Sophia Joy Middleton

This project was awarded the Landon Mackenzie Graduation Award for Visual Arts, and received an Honourable Mention for the John C. Kerr Chancellor Emeritus Award for Excellence in Visual Arts



Up and around,

over she goes.

Down below,

sunshine in tow.

I hope you are well.


My hands are dry from all the soap.

It hurts to weave when my hands are dry.

A panic,

A pain.

I want to hug again.





Clinging to calm in looming chaos.

up and over, down and through,

Staying close to the chosen few.

Building up,

reaching out.

If we had known,

If I had known.

Sophia Joy Middleton | Artist Statement 

I work predominantly with found industrial materials to create textile and basket-based sculptures. Using techniques traditionally associated with domestic craft, like embroidery, quilting and weaving, my sculptural works create space for conversations around gender expression and gender hierarchy, entwining inherited histories and self exploration.

My use of reclaimed scrap materials is motivated by the growing amount of waste produced by Vancouver’s technology and manufacturing industries. Much of the material I collect cannot be recycled or reused. Bringing this landfill bound waste to attention is integral to the conceptual understanding of my sculptural work.

I install my work in ways that critique the institutional bias against craft-based practices in the gallery by investigating histories of the vertical and horizontal planes of the gallery.

Material associations with industrial labour and manufacturing are in contending conversation with the repetitive, pensive process of weaving and quilting that I employ in my practice.

Selected Works

Sophia Middleton | Artist Bio

Raised in Canmore Alberta, Sophia Middleton found her artistic passion among talented local artisans. Now living and working in Vancouver, privileged to be on the unceded land of the Coast Salish peoples.

Sophia Middleton received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Minor in Curatorial Studies in 2020 from Emily Carr University of Art and Design.  During her studies, she co-founded and co-curated the student run gallery The Object Corner and was the resident art writer for the Lantern Publication.

Paige Ledingham

Chaps - 2019

Quilted rodeo cowboy chaps. Recycled fabrics, yarn, buttons, fringe.

What does it mean to take rodeo chaps, a functional, tough, traditionally masculine, piece of apparel and make them soft and feminized and decorative and performative?

Beings | Meghan West

Recycled textiles, thread, wire, fluff

Dimensions vary.

The sculpture’s visceral quality suggests the body. The translucent nylon skin obscures the innards, only fully visible at unresolved moments of leaking. Each individual contorts in response to the viewer’s gaze. Their mends become scabs, a physical record of time, care and labour scattered across the limbs. I am interested in the contrast between the pristine and the abject, especially in relation to bodies. By contrasting bodily interiors to exteriors, skin to scabs and bony extremities to swollen flesh, the visceral forms combined with the soft, familiar materials create tension by visually negotiating how textiles are conventionally used, compared to what is seen. The unique aesthetic quality of serially mended surfaces, coupled with the tactility and intimacy of textiles appeals to the desire to touch, contributing to this tension further.