It is the journey between birth and death. It is the “and”. It is everything we experience for good or ill. It is what determines our beliefs and interactions. It is the pause between the start and the stop. It is what happens between each breath.
This is a project for an exhibition, ultimately about sharing, growth, compassion and understanding.
As a part time job, I transcribe statements for a public service agency. People telling their stories and besides the person in that agency, I am the first witness to their experience. As I listen to these people, describing their trust, their betrayals, their cynicism, their strength, their hopelessness, I think because I listen with compassion and empathy, some healing has occurred in my own life.
The one thing I can tell you for sure is never listen to anyone who says “oh get over it” or “stop living in the past”. Those kinds of statements are insensitive and ignorant. They indicate a lack of understanding of you and your experiences. Don’t listen to them.
This is a project that surrounds people and their lives. People sharing their story. You can tell whatever story you want. All anonymous. You can talk about it, you can write it. You can tell your story as you lived it, or as you wish to have lived it. It’s not all about the bad stuff you did, or such, it is whatever you want to talk about. Your biography, your hurts, your joys, whatever. It is open to your interpretation. It can be as long as you wish or as short as you wish. It can be your entire life, or it can be what happened yesterday. Whatever is important to you.
I will transcribe your story and become your second witness. The recording, whether audio or written, is the first and the act of recording validates whatever it is you say. When you record or write, consciously think about this as you go through the process.
If you choose to do an audio recording, I will be transcribing – writing the story for you. Your name is not important unless you choose it to be, but your story is. I feel that there is healing in this process and there will be a healing and compassion in the process of my transcribing. There is healing in telling the story and healing in writing the story. When I do any transcribing, I always say a little prayer for each person regardless of what was done or received.
The show itself would look like this. Part one would be the visual: Everyone’s story, printed out, papers, 8 1/2 x 11 would cover the walls of the art gallery, all through the art gallery, everywhere. You wouldn’t be able to get away from it. All of your stories. All double spaced stories. Part two would be the recorded audio: Stories would be told on continuous loop, all stories one after the other, different people talking, in various places throughout the gallery. Part three would be recordable audio: There would be places for people to record their own stories if they have not already or to add if they already have. Part four would be tactile: there would be a place for them to write their own stories. Part five, and the most important: the people who come in to the gallery become the witnesses, the validations of all these stories. That validation creates connection, understanding, empathy and compassion. There might be a part six, which would be people in the gallery telling their stories in person.
I believe that there are many in the community who share the same experiences. Maybe in others seeing and hearing what is said, there will be healing in them too.
This is all anonymous. No identification. You would need to give permission to have your stories used in a public setting, but this would be implied by the very fact of submitting it. I am thinking that a book could also come out of this, because there is something empowering by seeing your words in print. This I can tell you for sure.
It’s about healing, partnerships and compassion. We can do this together. I believe it is the only way.
I was asked the other day, who is the artist who should read Art & Money?
Well, I answered, that’s a tricky question. There is no one group who “should” read it, whether beginning, mid or late career. I believe that we can all benefit from many streams of information, and that having read something is superior to not having read it.
The book talks about a lot of areas, and would be good for those who are beginning, as it gathers the information that I wish I knew about when I was first starting out.
This book would have a long shelf life because there are a great many things in the book that take years to develop, and by this I mean items on the cv, and renewed perspective on the biography, as time goes by, and you are active in your career and your community.
The book touches on the media, and how I believe they are interested in their community too, in helping it grow, and expand. It touches on the city – or at least my city – on how those in the cultural departments are interested in helping their city grow, and how the artist can be and is a valuable resource. It describes ways that you as an artist, or a believer in culture, can encourage this kind of investment of your city. This book would help the patron understand what goes on behind the easel.
The book also describes how the beginning, mid or late career artist can interact with charities, giving a number of points of view to do with supporting non profits. The charities would benefit from reading this information to see how they could change or adapt their policies to be more artist friendly. The patrons who frequent charities would benefit because they, as patrons, are interested in the success of their charity, and I believe they wish to see everyone successful. This book would help the patron or supporter understand what goes on behind the easel, and how they could help.
Am I an expert? No, I don’t say that I am. I am just an interested party, and believe in the growth for the good of all. I care enough to say something, and I care enough to believe that artists can take control of their career. This book is for those who believe in culture, who believe in their community.
I will be at Margot Artist in Residence Studio on Saturday October 12th, from 1-3 pm for an Art & Money book signing. If you would like to reserve your book, to ensure there is a copy for you, please send me a note. My email is juliatrops at gmail dot com.
The address is:
9533 Main Street
Parking for Margot’s studio is easy and it’s free. The Summerland Art Gallery is located right across from the high school, and you can park directly in front of the gallery. Or you can come around back of the gallery and park in the big parking lot right across the street.
I teamed up with Margot to create a partnership that is mutually beneficial, and promotes the premise of cooperation between artists. Margot has just launched her new Artist in Residence studio at the Summerland Art Gallery, and I have launched the book.
Margot has this to say:
“I believe we each have a unique gift to contribute to society, mine happens to be the way I see the world and how interpret it through my ART. Most artists work in isolation in their studios and rarely come out to share their vision with the exception of exhibitions and even then the interaction of the artist with fellow artists and the community are somewhat brief and limited. Thus I welcome any opportunity to share my vision with other artists and the greater community. Such opportunities however, don’t just appear magically…someone (I, you, we) have to create them and make them happen. That’s why I applaud Julia Trops efforts in writing this book and giving artists an insight on how to make this happen. Thanks Julia and cheers for creating the Okanagan Erotic Art Show event and all the opportunities of networking it provides“.
Thanks Margot, I appreciate that! It is true, we can think and dream all we wish, but it comes right down to doing, and making the magic happen ourselves. The possibilities are endless, and my belief is if we can dream it, we can do it.
I was very lucky to be chosen to attend Can Serrat just outside of Barcelona Spain. I highly recommend it to any artist who would like to be immersed in a life from 100 years ago. Both residencies that I went to involved highly spiritual influences, though I dislike to use spiritual, it is the only way to describe it. Mont Serrat is the mountain that dominates the area, and being from the Rockies, I was thinking, oh, another mountain.
How wrong I was.
There was a magic, a being-ness about that mountain; it would not be ignored. The days that I found myself wandering about, I inevitably ended up at its base. One day, a few of us decided to climb to the monastery, and I am glad I did. The trek up felt like a pilgrimage, and took about 3 hours. It felt like it was straight up, but you know, there was something that happened to me that day. I arrived at the monastery, ended up in the cathedral of the black virgin, touched her for hope of enlightenment. I fancy she did speak to me on some level, I am still not sure what the message was, but I felt/feel different and I believe this has come through in my work.
I am finding that the work coming out right now, is all to do with transient nature of existence. Skies change and evolve and blossom. Outside of the studio, I spent much time on my own, absorbing the culture, the surroundings, and the flavours of the people in the area. The food was amazing of course – it is Catalunya after all. I found the people to be very friendly and pleasant. I made the effort to communicate with them in Spanish, and there were times when I am sure I was confusing my French and my Italian. One time, the book shop lady responded to me in Italian, because she thought that is where I was from! So maybe my Italian was not so bad after all. With the help of my trusty little dictionary, I made out okay. I made up words, I am sure, and my pronunciation was horrible probably, but I felt that they appreciated my effort to live within their country and their comfort zones. I really enjoyed being out of mine.
Much of the work you see from these residencies are because of this fresh perspective. There were no boxes where I was, I was free to roam the earth and I did.
Since moving to Kelowna in 2002, Julia Trops has taught drawing, trained life drawing models, and was the sole founding organizer of the weekly Life Drawing sessions at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. These sessions began the development of the non profit life drawing group, incorporated two years later in 2005 as Livessence Society of Figurative Artists and Models. Heavily involved in the arts community, a Kelowna Museums board director for the past seven years, a founder of Okanagan Erotic Art Show, co-founder of Okanagan Arts Awards (as part of the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan). Encouraging other artists to get their name in print, 2009 onwards, Julia has compiled the Okanagan Erotic Art Show Catalog and the Simplicity in Mind for Livessence. In 2011, Julia was shortlisted for the City of Kelowna’s Honour in the Arts.
Julia keeps pretty busy in her studio, having sold over 1000 works worldwide since 2004 and shows at Gallery Odin at Silver Star Mountain Ski Resort.
Statement: I came to Can Serrat without any constraints or preconceived ideas about the direction my work would take. I was looking forward to letting inspiration guide the expression. Montserrat became the primary source of ideas pertaining to place and identity.
The mountain is ever changing. Standing tall in the landscape, unashamedly evolving, dissolving, renewing and creating, it is made of disparate materials, conglomerate rocks. It is a refuge and a home for many animals, including man. It reaches to the sky, tantalizing climbers. It´s a tower of babel, a place of many languages, all striving to be understood. Rock climbers and pilgrims alike find a sense of self within the landscape, one of the human spirit and the earth mother, an answer to “where am I, who am I,” and a sense of relevance to the world.
The colours, bold reds and blues are the same palette I am known for at home in Canada. Though until now my work has been dominated by the human form, here it is the naturally occurring figures in the mountain that inspire me. Having completed some works, and named them, it came as a surprise and yet not really a surprise, that the mountain peaks actually have names. There are “Monks”, “Angels”, and even “a Giant”.
My process is tactile. I paint with my hands, – I like the immediacy, the intimacy, the direct contact with paint, feeling it between my fingers, seeing each stroke on the canvas, shaping with light and colour. I layer colour upon colour, creating vibrations and relationships, some jarring and some in harmony, just like human interactions.
One day I was so full of the mountain, I had to recreate it in stones that I found along the path to Vinya Nova,(a beautiful restaurant snug at the base of the mountain). This piece is an assemblage of slate and quartzite mounted on tile from the nearby tile factory, which I also passed along the way. I called it Little Montserrat and is about 24 inches long by 8 inches high.
Like other mountain ranges, created from the clashing of tectonic plates, Montserrat symbolizes strength over adversity, the subconscious brought to the surface, the recognition of buried treasures, brought in to the warm friendship of the Catalan sun, shaped by the whipping criticism of the wind and the gentle pressing of falling rain.
The experience has been a very positive one. There will be a few changes when I get back to Canada. I feel much more confident, more assured, more in control and cognizant of my own abilities, in so many different ways.
These artworks are based on the birds that flew in the courtyard where I was staying, but they were hard to catch in a photo. They had a joy of life, of freedom, and they taught me so much.
Some of these, I started to see what they were – wonder if you see the same things I do ….
When Gianni Sirch saw these, one of the first things he said was that I was not afraid of death. No I don’t think I am. I don’t think he meant that I was morbid, just that I recognize there is darkness and light, and there must always be a balance. Because of my experiences through the military, and after, I’ve been through hell – and I think that is the key – to go through, and not to stay ….
These images have become the recording of my own existence, perhaps. I don’t think we are all that different in our experiences.
I did a self portrait near the end of the residency. I was quite captivated by Andy Warhol’s Saint Apollinia, which was on display in the gallery of the Castello Aragonese.
I liked that image so much, that I did a grisaille with my minimal palette of white, titan buff, and earth tones in pastels, fixed with medium. This is a process I follow (doing a rendition close to the original) when I am going to change the image in to my own expression. Not always, of course, sometimes I just paint …. but this time I did:
June 4th, the first Monday was our trip to Lecce (pronounced Lay’ cheh) and to the art supply store. It was a beautiful walk around the city centre to the ancient Roman ruins, and the Renaissance Duomo. Barry was not at the first trip, but he was at the second time I was there, so I took pictures with him:
I am not much of a church person, but the architecture was wonderful, the places people lived, again was stunning. Old balconies, palaces that have been turned in to flats, the history, the feelings, the eminence of life and living, souls who were trapped or who chose to stay. The streets were quiet when we went, as it was still the quiet time of the day where people did not go outside.
Dinner was at Alle Due Corti, and was grand, I thought. Many dishes were passed around, appetizers of zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, red pepper, so much! Then there was the actual dinner of pasta and vegetables. I have no idea the names of them, but the Italians certainly know how to cook!