flowers also gardens, gardens also seeds
curated by Tarin Dehod
The frame of this moment is part of who we are, and part of who we have always been even if we have ignored it in the past. It is once again exposing to the privileged the worst of ourselves, and the necessity of showing up, with our bodies, our words, our resources. It is weaning us down to the fundamentals: the value of life.
In the fall of 2019, Maggie Groat and I started talking about ungendered fertility and production. fertilities>twins>swings>sings (2019) was the core work in a knife, a project I curated as part of Gallery 44’s “A Maze of Collapsing Lines,” an online series also featuring the work of Amalie Atkins and Soda_Jerk. We envisioned fertilities> installed on AKA’s billboard this summer, but after months of pandemic life in all of its complexity and constraint, we had a gut feeling, a pull toward flowers also gardens, gardens also seeds (found paper, 2020). This collage was originally made as a pattern for fabric, that intention was clear; the work enveloped us, like something we didn’t know we needed. The AKA and Paved billboard has naturally gathered its own mandate, layered by the artists who have contemplated its presence on a street in Saskatoon with a history of extreme prejudice, violence, and now shared by gentrification and many essential non-profit services. Artists tend to address this space either through an image that offers beauty and contemplation or something pointed, hard, and inescapable.
I’m writing this statement now in another world. Not new, more raw, less obscured. And flowers also has been up on 20th Street for two weeks. The work is a utopic vision; an impossible garden. I’m not sure what it means to present art work right now, but I am sure that fertility and growth, and life and death are ever present.
Flowers also gardens, gardens also seeds is an offering, a memorial. And like all things that are relegated to the ground, it is fertilizer for something new to grow.
Presented in partnership with Gallery 44.
Postscript: This statement was intended to be released on June 4, AKA and the artist delayed this announcement in order to hold space for BIPOC voices.
Maggie Groat is a visual artist who utilizes a range of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications to interrogate methodologies of collage and salvage practices. Her current research surrounds site-responsiveness, shifting territory, associative logic, decolonial ways-of-being, gardens, slowness, margins, and the transformative potentials of found and ritual materials. The approaches and perspectives demonstrated within her practice are informed by her Skarú:ręʔ and Settler backgrounds, her roles as mother and environmental steward. Her work has been shown at institutions across Canada, including The Western Front (Vancouver, BC), Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff, AB), Art Gallery of York University, Art Museum University of Toronto (Toronto ON), SBC (Montreal, QC), and has twice been long-listed for the Sobey Award (2015, 2018). She is the editor of The Lake (2014) published by Art Metropole (Toronto ON) and ALMANAC (2017) published by the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery (Kitchener ON). She is currently a lecturer in the Visual Studies department at the University of Toronto and lives with her partner and three young children on the land between two lakes, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Chonnonton and Anishnaabeg.