jenna dawn maclellan
March 17th to May 5th 2017
This series of textile works by jenna dawn maclellan is inspired by the artist’s return to Northern Ontario’s rural regions after having spent several years in Montreal. Confronted with the challenges posed by this vast expanse of boreal forest, she formulates a variety of playful strategies to defend herself against nature. With her snowmobile, bear skin rug, and anti-mosquito suit – all sewn – jenna dawn maclellan pays homage to the North of her childhood.
The objects sewn by maclellan are as familiar as they are fantastic. Being transposed into textile gives an air of storied marvelousness to their otherwise ordinary nature. This is how objects found in so many Northern Ontario sheds and garages are transformed into genuine icons of northernness.
jenna dawn maclellan grew up in the community of Sioux Lookout, in Ontario. Ideas of geography, identity, andaccessibility, as well as encounters, have greatly influenced her artistic practice and social engagement. Thanks to her many travels, she has become a narrator, a builder of social sculptures, a guardian of memory, a social activator and transmitter of domestic arts.
Her work has been shown at the Musée des Maîtres et Artisans du Québec, la Maison culture Côte-des-Neiges, le MAI, Diagonale, the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Toronto Free Gallery, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, the Casa de la Cultura de Holguin in Cuba, the Museo Textil d’Oaxaca in Mexico, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse.
Return to the Enchanted World
Reflections: “le homecoming” by jenna dawn maclellan
an accompanying text by Guylaine Tousignant
“[i]f the writer cuts himself off from his childhood, his roots, his oneiric ancestral memory, he deprives himself of all his artistic means.”
“I really wanted to go back to being playful, just having fun with the materials and not worrying about perfection.”
jenna dawn maclellan
The enchanted world was not invented by Walt Disney. It is a world as old as the world, a place of magic, where reality is lost in dream, and dream in reality. It is the land of childhood. It is a land that always lies within us, whether we want it to or not.
When we leave it, it calls us back. When we try to forget it, it calls us out. It wields a force over us that can attract or repel us, like a black bear in a garbage dump.
There is magic in this place where we first played, where we threw our first stones, where we imagined what life might be, where we built it for ourselves with the tools and materials at hand: a chainsaw, some wood, a shovel, some snow, scissors, some fabric, pencils, and a little cardboard.
This place is the cabin and the bonfire.
To remember it is to travel freely in a world of the imagination. During winter, we remember ourselves picnicking in our favourite summer dress, gathering snowballs; during summer, we take snowmobiles through trails coloured with crushed berries.
In the image, the cord of wood is always perfectly there.
Shooting stars fall from the sky in all seasons. Wishes will come true.
Life, as seen through memory, whether it’s our own or someone else’s, is like a dream that’s real. We know that life is not like that, but we don’t know that we know it, and it’s good that way.
This enchanted world is where we must go when we forget how we ever came to grow up, when we forget how to be children.
In that moment, it’s always good to go back home.
Guylaine Tousignant is a writer and freelancer. She lives in Windsor, Ontario.