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Dawn Dale

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FIERCE PROTECTION

"...Today, we are more conscious of what type of an environment we wish to live in and what quality of life we wish to expose our children [to]." This Court has recognized that "[e]veryone is aware that individually and collectively, we are responsible for preserving the natural environment... environmental protection [has] emerged as a
fundamentaal value in Canadian society"...
L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Bastarache, and Arbour JJ.114957 Canada Ltee (Spraytech, Societé d'arrosage) v. Hudson (Town)

Form: Monumental Urban Tableau composed of Fir Select Plywood, latex and acrylic paint, pencil crayon, journal text, hardware, branches and twigs
Height 305 cm. x Width 245 cm. x Depth125 cm. --approx 10' higf x 8'wide

Artist’s Statement

Fierce Protection is part of a sequence of works, The Cosmic Dust Series, that I have created over the years to express my relationship with my daughter, Anna. I chose to work within the series in connection to the NAWL conference, Women, the Family and the State, in order to explore my current role as a mother experiencing the trepidations that most parents feel as their children approach adulthood, especially, womanhood.

This sense of anxiety is exacerbated by my concerns about contemporary values in western culture and how they will impact on Anna¹s future, on all children's lives. I see the world being dismantled by patriarchal warmongering, capitalist greed and post modern malaise. However, I do have hope, I see the work of many women artists and lawyers as being part of a constructive means to critique and curb this destructive mindset, a positive process by which to turn the tide of Western nihilism that threatens to engulf the world.

Narrative paintings can be read as one reads any story. As an eco-feminist artist, I have gleaned symbols from my research and personal life in order to create a work that reflects this particular quandary of motherhood. For those unfamiliar with these metaphors, the bear is an ancient representation of the potential within the fierce maternal nature of protection, the baby is that sublime state of innocence, safe within that maternal sphere. The car lights are the distressing, hurried hubris of contemporary urban culture -blithely unaware, yet, ever so self important. The cautionary hand of the traffic light could be a warning symbol of the “body” of law. Those barely visible stars- the constellations, The Big Dipper, Little Dipper - referred to as the Big Bear and Little Bear in other cultures, and Draco) are, for me, guides of a more ancient order, Nature. The format is that of a triptych, a play on familiar religious iconography. The life size scale is meant to draw the viewer more strongly into the implied drama of the tableau. The twigs and branches are an acknowledgment of the tree/s used to build the plywood structure. The rambling text on the back is my real struggle within the processes of motherhood, creation, and the ideas embodied within them.

As a mother and an artist I have been following the debates around the development of moral intelligence - the role of the parents, the family, the community and the state in the development of self regulating individuals with a true sense mutual respect, trust and responsibility. But the loss of true citizenship to the mere role of consumer in the new world order of corporate culture, the gross misuse of power within political structures on a global scale, the ethical crisis within science and technology communities that threatens the environmental integrity of the planet, the resurgence of anarchy and the loss of civil society in many third world states, the ever escalating drama of fundamentalist conflicts for the power over the minds and souls of the world - all these things do not make this the kind of world anyone would want to inherit. How do we dare to pass on such a mess and expect them to want to take up the responsibility if we shuck the commitment ourselves? How do we empower the next generation, to give them real hope, real tools to take on the task of bringing the world back in balance?
...Trust is a notion that I have been exploring in my work..

About the Artist
Dawn’s primary focus is landart, organically based ephemeral floor installations, and the Cosmic Dust Series drawings. Her sources - resources come from her commitment to the environment, ecofeminist and her steadfast relationships with her fellow artists and family. She teaches sculpture at the Ottawa School of Art, in the school system with MASC and APLA, and is an active member of the arts community where she has lived and worked for the last 22 years.

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