Michelle Forsyth - Statement
Nine years ago I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease. The condition defines nearly everything I do, from the moment I wake up in the morning, and move my stiff body out of bed, to the late afternoon, when I precariously balance on my ladder to put my tools away after a day spent making. The diagnosis pushed me to reconsider my work as a whole, and I shifted my practice to focus on what was going on in my immediate domestic surroundings. Various forms of reproduction, replication, and repetition of personal objects, and the body’s interaction with those copies, serve as the genesis for the artworks—both formally and conceptually. My home and my studio are inseparable and in this space I use the items that I interact with on a daily basis as the genesis for the work I currently produce. The act of making within my domestic habitat marks my shifting physical and emotional relationship to my surroundings.

In my recent work I replicate items from my closet. I arrange them to produce sculptural assemblages. Objects including screen prints, lithographs, paintings, weavings, and papier-mâché sculptures are then photographed on hand-painted backdrops and edited in Photoshop. Text passages, in the form of footnotes, serve as anecdotes to the visual imagery. I employ photography as a tool to unify the surface, to create distance from the subject matter, and to obscure the evidence of the hand in the making of the work. I draw upon the conventions of the still life to alleviate these objects from the context of the everyday, and instead, present them with text to expose personal dramas.

I am a proponent of repetition, both aesthetically and conceptually. 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. 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 piece, I employ writing to express a gratitude for those with whom I have shared my life. I mentally stitch together these stories when I work in the studio, keeping my hands busy so that I forget my body’s pain while I think, mourn, and commemorate my past.

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).