MICHELLE FORSYTH



BIOGRAPHY

Biography

“One friend must always go before the other; one friend must always die first. There is no friendship without the possibility that one friend will die before the other, perhaps right in front of the other’s eyes. For even when friends die together, or rather, at the same time, their friendship will have been structured by the very beginning by the possibility that one of the two would see the other die, and so, surviving, would be left to bury, to commemorate, and to mourn.”

- Excerpt from To Reckon with the Dead: Jacques Derrida’s Politics of Mourning, by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas

Tales of companionship and narratives describing human vulnerability often accompany my works. Whether embedded within the structure of the work itself, or included as a footnote to a work, I use these stories to express my gratitude for those with whom I have shared my life. I think of these stories when I work in the studio, and my process is focused on keeping my hands busy so that I can think, mourn, and commemorate my past.

I am a proponent of decorative repetition, I champion the power of colour to stir emotions, and I swoon over the use of florid language that elicits forgotten moments or evokes scenes just barely remembered. I think of myself as an interdisciplinary artist, and while I hold an educational background in photography and sculpture and a history of practice in the field of painting, I employ a diverse array of material processes.

For years I made work on and with paper, an impulse that stemmed from a childhood spent living on a sailboat where the portability of the material provided an economic means to occupy time. Even though my work now escapes these strict parameters, I am still conscious of my material footprint and have even taken steps to making work that stores easily. This can be seen in my body of work entitled: Modular Pedestals.

Fleeting presences and things left behind, from images of mattresses dumped in the woods, clouds floating overhead, wildflowers growing up though the cracks in the sidewalk, to the more recent views of my cast off clothes have occupied my work. These often banal images are paired with text including public accounts of personal tragedy, and private tales of public spectacle, to the more recent, personal writing where I draw meaning from my private life and the domestic struggles that ensue in the space of my home.

I hold an MFA from Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ); and a BFA from the University of Victoria (Victoria, BC). My work has been included in exhibitions at venues such as: Mulherin + Pollard, (New York, NY); Zaum Projects (Lisbon, Portugal); The BRIC Arts Media House (Brooklyn, NY); Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (Doha, Qatar); Pentimenti Gallery (Philadelphia, PA); Auxiliary Projects (Brooklyn, NY); The Hunterdon Museum of Art (Clinton, NJ); The Luminary Center for the Arts (St. Louis, MO); The Charleston Heights Arts Center (Las Vegas, NV); Deluge Contemporary Art (Victoria, BC); and Mercer Union (Toronto, ON). I have been the recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts (Ottawa, ON), Artist Trust (Seattle, WA), and was awarded the Larry Sommers Memorial Fellowship (Seattle Print Arts, WA). I have taught courses at Pratt Institute (New York, NY); Brooklyn College (Brooklyn, NY); University of Southern Maine (Gorham, ME); Washington State University (Pullman, WA), and currently hold a tenured position at OCAD University (Toronto, ON).