Most of us tend look skyward when searching for heavenly beings, but Nelson artist and writer Susan Andrews Grace believes it’s the ground beneath our feet where we’ll find sacred things.
Her new textile-based exhibit, Underwritten, opening tonight at Touchstones explores the source of earth’s beauty as coming from below, with a particular focus on the worms and maggots that clean the soil, turning the world’s waste into fertilizer.
“They care more about the earth than we do,” Andrews Grace says, referring to the under appreciated invertebrates that she became fascinated with after readings a book by Charles Darwin on the actions of worms.
The creepy crawlers feature predominantly in the exhibit. They’re hidden in a series of white clouds that dangle from the ceiling and gathered under a pair of burial shrouds that are an immediate focal point in the display. They poke out of a burrow that hangs on the wall and are more subtly featured in several colourful, layered silk collages.
Andrews Grace spent a year creating the exhibit, working on it each afternoon after spending her mornings writing. She says her literary interests crept into the show in the way she found something of an alphabet in the patterns left by worms burrowing in wood and included these letters in her collages.
The artist says she would not have been able to undertake the project without the help of a major projects grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, which she used to buy several bolts of silk fabric and all the other materials she used in the exhibit. The burial shrouds, made from pineapple cloth, with flannel and silk ties, were sewn to fit she and her husband.
“We’ll be able to use them when we die,” Andrews Grace says. In the meantime, plaster casts of each of their bodies hold their places.
Andrews Grace will give an artist talk about the exhibit on Saturday, September 28 at 3 p.m. as part of Culture Days.
The opening reception is tonight (Friday, September 20) and will begin with at 7 p.m. sharp with an unfolding movement ritual performed by Lynn Dragone.