above: installation detail from One Step at a time, curated by Robert Freeman with an essay by Sally McKay at the Art Gallery of Mississauga

My installations are like ethical laboratories which take us to the precarious edge of disasters. In "One step at a time", the disaster is man-made, a consequence of greed and selfshness. It is a dystopian scene that leads to utopian possibility. A field of corn precedes an increasingly littered country path that leads, ultimately, to an urban dam of hoarded food that has burst, and the flood is washing us away. But I also offer a way out - a way back from that edge that is both individual and societal - by urging us to remember and connect with what is best about us, something joyful and energetic - our ability to act and the belief that personal redemption or meaning comes from helping others.

The video of a girl dancing* thoughtfully and enthusiastically begins and ends the show. It is the idea I want people to hold onto. Our universal economic mess thus merely underscores our interconnectedness and personal vulnerability. Made from paper and woodcut prints, elements are theatrically repeated to fill gallery spaces. In their midst are very small (2 in.) and very large (9 ft.) human figures, men and women who heroically contend with the big and small disasters thrown at them. Hannah Arendt regarded the act of inserting ourselves into the world as heroic. Perhaps this is even more the case as the media overwhelm us with a facile succession of disasters where we can do little to help. This daily "news" contributes to a mood of lethargy, hopelessness and cynicism in which we can lose our sense of effectiveness. The figures in my work dispel this malaise by committing themselves to their first, next step. Such efforts, when they occur, are incredibly hopeful. Who ever expected hope could be radical?

To encourage people to consider some of the implications of my work, I try to involve viewers physically so that they not only have a visceral experience as they move through the installation, but they also become a part of the problem, or the solution, for other viewers who may read them as actors in a drama. Libby

*The wonderful girl dances to "The Show" by Lenka, "Say Hey" by Michael Franti and Spearhead and "Une Rose Noir" by Paul Cargnello

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