Art in Acadie has long had an artisanal element. Beginning in the 1960s, several Acadian artists sought to free themselves from their predecessors by developing formalist and conceptual practices. By the 1980s, however, the contemporary era led to a wave of reskilling, where some artists showed a desire to reconnect with traditional know-how and modernize it. Such tendencies are embodied in the ceramic work of Marie Ulmer or in the textile works of Evelyn Coutellier.
Marie Ulmer avec une de ses oeuvres (1999). Photo : Centre de documentation de la GALRC
This manner of artistic creation carries with it profound symbolism, residing in the creative act itself: in the tactile connection to materiality, the reclaiming of artisanal traditions, and the time and physical effort devoted to creation. Many works of contemporary art put these techniques to use, long marginalized in art history, and contribute to a powerful critical discourse.
et nausea pressus
(un mal de mer)
The work et nausea pressus (un mal de mer) takes different forms of traditional know-how and combines them in order to break the hierarchy of artistic disciplines and the boundaries that exist between them. Each technique is applied in such a way as to imitate the other: the treatment of ceramics evokes textiles, and vice versa. Through this self-referencing, Lavoie attempts to deconstruct preconceived ideas about these materials, often seen as marginal because they are associated with women’s work. She demonstrates that interdisciplinary artistic production today can very well draw on and take root in traditional know-how. Going back and forth between art and craft, Lavoie’s work celebrates traditions while updating their relevance. She invites a dialogue between the material, the act of production, and craftsmanship.
Going back and forth between art and craft, Lavoie’s work celebrates traditions while updating their relevance.
The metamorphoses inherent in the work, which is a result of the imitation of the materials, also reflect the perpetual transformations of the natural ecosystems. The artist demonstrates that created objects are dependent on the ecology of the studio, that the traces left by her hands and the manipulations carried out during the production are an integral part of the work. One can therefore conceive that ceramics hold memory: they contain the history of the earth and its components but are also permeated with the story of its creation. The artist’s body and the work become inseparable.
et nausea pressus (un mal de mer), 2018, ceramics, textiles and acrylic painting
This co-dependence brings to mind the vulnerability of ecosystems, but also suggests a meditation on the mediums and craftsmanship by elevating their contribution to the artistic ecosystem. In this way, links can be drawn between Lavoie’s artwork and the work of Marie Ulmer, a source of inspiration for et nausea pressus (un mal de mer).
The artist would like to thank the Département d’arts visuels de l’Université de Moncton and Diana LeBlanc for their contributions to the project.
Emilie Grace Lavoie
Emilie Grace Lavoie works mainly in ceramics and sculpture. Her work combines ceramics and textiles to establish a dialogue between fragility and materiality. Her sculptures and ceramic installations reflect a growing awareness of environmental imbalance. Through her work, Lavoie questions current trends in genetics and its unknown effects on ecosystems.
Emilie Grace Lavoie at work during the installation of her piece (2018)
By combining the exquisite with the catastrophic, the artist highlights the complex and fluctuating relationship between living species. She creates her own environments through an accumulation of forms and transformed objects and imagines new species that could be the result of the Anthropocene.
Emilie Grace Lavoie was born in Edmundston, New Brunswick, and completed junior college studies in fashion design at Collège LaSalle in 2011, a Bachelor of Visual Art at the Université de Moncton in 2016, and a master’s degree in visual art at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2018.