Conversations

Terroir Q&A Series: Laura Kenney

Laura Kenney is a fibre artists who's colourful and expressive works are part of Terroir: a Nova Scotia Survey. Her Q&A will provide some insight into her work and practice. For more information about Kenny visit http://www.laurakenneyrugs.ca/.

Terroir: a Nova Scotia Survey is on view until January 15, 2017. The accompanying exhibition publication is now available for sale at the Gallery Shop.

What is your connection to Nova Scotia, and why were you inspired to submit a work for this exhibition?

My Dad was a pilot in the  Canadian Air Force so I moved around a lot as a kid. It wasn't easy always being the new kid and to this day I am always thinking of the stuff I have and how many boxes it would fill. "Home is where you hang your hat",  my Mom would tell us.... and well, I have hung my hat in Nova Scotia for the past almost twenty years. I am staying put...no more boxes or moving trucks. This is the place I want to be, it's beautiful...it's home,  we are the underdogs and I feel this province is whispering in my ear, "tell my story". That is what I am doing through my rug hooking and through the eyes of a character named Judy...telling the story of Nova Scotia.

When I saw the call for submissions put out by the AGNS for Terroir I just thought, "Yes..this is me!...and I also felt ..."No, I don't have a chance.. I mean, come on, its the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia". I went with the first voice and  put in a submission and did the biggest happy dance when I found out I was in. It is not cool to say, but really...I just want to go the the gallery everyday and stand by my rugs and tell patrons, "Hey...I made this."

At the End of the Day.
Laura Kenney, At the End of the Day, 2016, wool and silk on burlap, 54.61 x 121.92 cm. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Raw Photography.

Can you tell us a little about your works that are on view?

Tit's Up is a piece I have in the show and it's an expression my Mom uses. Judy is lying down..on the floor ..naked...perhaps she slipped on a banana peel. I was also thinking about The Chronicle Herald when I made this  and when I posted the image on facebook...I titled the piece, Tit's Up... like The Chronicle Herald. And, sometimes it feels the province may be going tit's up.

At the End of the Day is also in the exhibit and in it we once again see Judy lying down....but on a couch, cat on her belly, drink in one hand. I wanted to capture that sigh of relief of being home. She has had a tough day defending lighthouses, her culture.. and this is all the energy that she has left ... just to lie on the couch.

Your work is on view along with 28 other artists. How do you see your work within the context of this group exhibition?

I see myself with 28 other artists who chose to live and work here. We know the value of this place and we know we aren't Toronto or Montreal and  we are ok with that. There is a lot of talk about Nova Scotia... about what our politicians do and about what we as people want for our province and I feel like I am with 28  artists wanting to put a visual to that discussion. When people look back at this exhibit...in say 50 years, they are going to have a glimpse into Nova Scotia and see the challenges we were facing.

What are you working on in now, or planning for the near future?

Last year I was contacted by a writer in the states who would like to include me along with four other rug hookers for a book, so I will be working on that. And, I have a solo show the end of August 2017 in St. Johns, Newfoundland at the  Craft Council Gallery. I would also like to write a book about Judy..but, I have been saying that for years...so, I will have to see about that.

When you’re not working, what are activities/interests that inspire your practice?

I read, I hike..I grab the kids and we search for lighthouses. It feels like everything I do fits in with my work..there is very little down time as I am either thinking about what I am going to hook or hooking....and that is ok because if a place is whispering in your ear...I  gotta listen and I gotta make art...I have no choice really.

Image Credit: 

Laura Kenney, Tits Up, 2016, wool and silk on burlap, 38.10 x 74.93 cm. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Raw Photography