UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Grounding, in touch Reitzel, Brittany


Grounding, In Touch, is an exhibition and supporting paper that documents and discusses the transitions my pre-existing painting practice took towards artistic embodiment, using clay, my body, and the land as a form of expanded landscape painting. As an artist and a settler on unceded Syilx territory (unceded: land not given over by treaty), I want my art practice to allow me to reflect and heal my relationship to the land here. The land of the Okanagan Valley is my case study. I look to settler scholar John Wagner to help identify problems in framing the landscape in a way that produces an unsustainable aesthetic. The connection felt between body and land struggles to be interpreted through the English language. I introduce Debra Bird Rose’s idea of ‘shimmer’ and the local Indigenous nsyilxcən word temxulexw to speak to the land and our body’s interconnection. I introduce three female land artists as key inspiration for moving my artwork from the studio to the land. Walking and observing are discussed as an integral part of creating a ritual to create with the land. I work on the ground with my body and materials, allowing me to produce works that break from pictorial representations of the Okanagan, instead speak to real and tactile experiences. I discuss my choice to work with clay and canvas on the land to ground myself. I relate the pushing and morphing of the clay to my experience of ‘shimmer’ as I attempt to replicate the pulse of the land through my movements. The gestures I make with my hands alludes to the process and the resulting form of each artwork. With my thesis artwork and support paper I participate in the conversation of how to move forward in care and respect for lands we live on.

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