2021 Grad Show

Emily Pickering

AUArts Grad Show 20201222_104327


There is a universal truth that exists by many names and connects us all. Some might use the language of religion, synchronicity, science, or magic to talk about that which is bigger than ourselves. But different tongues all find ways to ask the same questions. My path is one overgrown with trees and lichen and lined with magic and meditation. It is one that honours the living world around me. I find my centre in the living land and the many wondrous things that grow inside it. We all rely on and share in our relationship with the land and as a person who works with its spirit, it is important for me to acknowledge that I am a guest in what is the traditional territories of The Blackfoot Confederacy, Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. It is with my work I offer a small form of resistance to the systems that seek to divide and destroy. Through Spell Craft, Ritual and Performance I engage the natural world as a means to heal my internal one. I am drawn to the flora commonly found within the City. Because even the Dandelions, Ever Greens and Grasses that we all take for granted, are beings of magic. It is through them I am able to reveal the magic within the seemingly mundane and manifest physical reminders of my own strength and resilience. The materials I work with often act as an extension of my self. As they are transformed into and used as ritual objects, I likewise find myself changed. This is in this therapeutic process that opens a space for reflection, healing, and transformation. Through the documentation of these works, I hope to reveal my inner experiences and use my craft to build a shared experience of magic within the world.

Static in My Skin

: Static in My Skin explores the many sensations of dissociation through poetic motion and sound. Out of body experiences, visual snow, ghosting, and aura are just a few of the unique phenomena that have defined my relationship to body, place, and time. There is a dissonance in the space in which my body and self exist, a slippage between two things that were meant to be one. It is at this intersection I find myself lost, in search of a tether to call me home.

Wishing Bowl

Wishing Bowl
Fall 2020
72 Dandelions and all their seeds
The Dandelion is filled with medicine and magic. Countless people have whispered to it their hopes and desires. This small ritual is performed by many people in many places. To speak a wish is to make real out internal worlds and there is power in this act. This is how we build the life we want to live inside. From a whisper to wind that will carry our seed to soil.

When you come across a wishing bowl:

Carefully remove the lid.
Whisper your wish into the bowl.
Take a single seed.
Carefully, replace the lid.
Feel your wish into the seed and blow it into the wind.
When your seed finds the soil, what you wished for will start to become true.

Mobile For Winter Sleep

Mobile for Winter Sleep
Fall 2020
Poplar leaves, Popular branches, embroidery thread
Night, winter, and the moon all share in the space of sleep. And as the moon ebbs and flows with light and life, so do all things in the land. As autumn fades and winter approaches, the trees, animals and the spirt prepare for rest. But like a child, my spirit, is not ready for rest. It is uneasy and unready to settle into the stillness of winter and is afraid of what hides in its dark corners. But the moon, even on the darkest of nights, promises that she will glow again. And with the return of her full glow each month, she reminds me the cycle of light and dark exists in all things. The leaves will grow again, the ground will thaw, and I will wake up.

Cowbird Mother

Cowbird Mother
Winter 2020
garden plants, salt, hair, honey, seeds
Every seed left over from the time we were together, always grows into a plant that I willfully neglect. As if to nurture it would somehow nurture the microscopic part of me that you still have control of. But these little seeds are blameless. They are only dark things because I see them as such, but to another, they might be food and warmth and fertilizer and endless vegetation. I surrender these small parts of me back to the land, back to the animals, back to the dirt. And in the spring, I will look for and hope to find them scattered in the earth around my neighbourhood to see how much they’ve changed without me.

Water Bowl

Water Bowl
dead leaves of house plants, beeswax

The small ways in which the last year has affected daily life has taken its toll on the lives of my house plants. Some days I can hardly bring myself to get out of bed. And the neglect I show myself echoes into the space around me. A negative feedback loop that transforms depression from an internal feeling to a physical manifestation. Formed from the foliage of the house plants that died over the last year into a ritual water bowl used to tend to the ones I still have. This work is as much an apology to the plants that make up its body as much as a way to bring back structure and intention to my day to day life. A transformation of neglected routine to daily ritual.

Seed Spirits

Seed Spirits, Winter 2021
Clematis Occidentalis or Clematis Virginiana seeds, Roots, Bees Wax

Seed Spirits are born from unknown seeds, these small beings are unsure of what they are, and if they would do harm or bring healing were they to take root in the ground. So, they chose to stay forever drifting, determined to help others not face the same inner conflict they feel themselves. They live in the spaces where we find our thoughts existing between the borders of self-care and self-harm. Dancing in the wind around our heads, in hopes to catch our eye and pull us back to our bodies.

Equinox Egg

Equinox eggs, Winter 2021
Egg shell, bees wax, dye, seeds, twine

The day and night find a moment of balance with each other and the sun makes its slow crawl back to the land. there is a shift in the spirit of trees and animals alike. We all sense that relief from the long night of winter is all but around the corner. We collectively stretch out of our dens and look to see who else might be ready to venture outwards. But it has been many cold months in a strange time and the faces that greet us are those of strangers. But sharing in a moment sun melts away the boarders of pretence and w
e find ourselves at peace in the knowledge that though we are strange to each other
, in this moment we are one.

A Calender of Firsts

A Calendar of Firsts
Spring 2021
Sticks from a favourite place, rocks from its riverbed, spare paper, twine, ash and pigment paint

This calendar is a gift of time rather than a way to watch it tick by.
It is an invitation to myself to fully participate within my own life. I want to live with the earth and the seasons. This calendar is the approximate length of each season and meant to repeat at the beginning of each Solstice or Equinox, with the first day being set aside as a day of celebration for the new season. Each day on this calendar is an advent whose gifts are focused on celebrating the self and creating the opportunity for a moment to be untethered from all other concerns and to act in gratitude to the self.

Magic Wand

Magic Wand, Spring 2021
Poplar Branch, Olive Oil, Bees Wax, linen, Virgins Bower Seeds

There is magic in the trees. Seek it deep in woods. You have been empty of your power for far too long. Lay your tired body naked in the cool grass, chest bare to the sun. Let it fill you up. You are the master of your own energy. Fall into the rhythm of the branches who dance with the wind, in and out of shadow. Let the whispers of their spells slip from your lips and feel the whole of your body breath in time with the earth. Let the light inside of you feed and grow and emanate from the centre of your being. Offer yourself the radiant power you have only given to others, it is yours alone, drink until you are full.

Honey Glass (Closed Door, Open Window)

Closed Door, Open Window
Spring 2021
Honey Glass, a winter outside

Honey Glass was the first work of my 2021 semester at AuArts,
my final semester a long-drawn-out degree that likewise has not in the way I had expected it to. My revisiting of this work acts as a form of catharsis, a disruption and conclusion to my 8 years of attending, failing, and trying again to complete this degree. It is entirely the same structure as before but changed by the long cold months of winter. It has thinned, cracked, warbled, and it is entirely ready to let go of everything it has been holding on to. It just needs a little time; it just needs a little sun. And we will both melt together to make something both empty of expectationand full of potential.