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On Art and Law
"They are both creative endeavours that assist in organizing, structuring, and envisioning better futures."
Elizabeth Sheey, Professor of Law, co- developer of Templates for Activism project, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance partcipant

"I am extremely interested by acts of imagination. I feel that within the State and framed by diminishng citizens' rights, creative acts are subversive. ... relationship to NAWL is inspiring." Gail Bourgeois, artist, conference volunteer, curator, writer

"...amazing coverage of an oppressive reality..." Kim Pate, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry
Societies

"Some truths are hard to look at. Particularly when they crack open myths..." M.

"...they are both expressions of reality and vision." Bonnie Diamond, NAWL Executive Director, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"I'm still quite enchanted by the thought of what first seems as a far-fetched collaboration: the "arts" and law." Melissa Pipe, musician, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant, Montreal

"The body of law is as complex as the body of art..." Dawn Dale, Bridging Visions artist

"The dialogue was evident, even when the gallery was empty of viewers and in the absence of the artist." Audrey Churgin, Bridging Visions artist, Director, Canadaian Artists Represenation le front des artistes canadiens[CARFAC]

"I think it would be good to have them [the exhibition catalogues] in the law school libraries and in faculties of fine arts. They should be co-catalogued under art, law and social change."
Bonnie Diamond, NAWL Executive Director, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant


Re art and law communities working together

"It's a very simple bridge to build. Women working on women's issues at some level both speak the same language. It's lovely to create one sound with two voices."
Elizabeth Sheehy

" The whole experience altered my understanding and how a creative process can be fostered." Kay V. Marshall, feminist lawyer, NAWL conference committee member, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"This said a lot for how much the lawyers must have respected the artistic process and conversely, how much the artist valued the presence of lawyers." Sue-Ellen Gerritson, multi-disciplinary artist, curator, writer

"...The spirit of art transfiguring our vision of law - leaving it exposed.... The show does what art does best - it provokes and stimulates." Joanne, Gallery Comments Book

"I found this very rich in capturing multiple layers ... an overlap of experiences and levels of ... language, a bridging much needed in our search for equality and wholeness. Thank you for taking this initiative, NAWL." Lorraine Bergina, Gallery Comments Book

"Je trouve que c'est une bonne façon de travailler en callaboration avec les millieux communautaires et artistiques. C'est une vision très intéressante car cette nouvelle attitude permet aux gens de se rapprocher et de s'ouvrir. ... C'est une très bonne piste. Je dirais même que c'est une des voies qui permettraient aux artistes de se faire connaître et de faire connaître leurs idées." N.Tuyen Dang, Bridging Visions artist

"Merci ! pour this unique project, deeply interesting..." Anik Bouvrette, dance artist, Gallery Comments Book

"I liked the openness of the project. In all communications I felt no constraints, and for us that is very important... this experience alerts me to the potential for discussions and learning and interactions. In gardening you want to have as many pathways and borders as you can because these areas are the most fertile. Now both communities have had a brief glimpse of this fertile potential. ...a rich experience. Kathy Gillis, Bridging Visions artist

"...a quick perception of the strong commitment and profound dedication of the women working within the field of law ...things are going to be changing with all this momentum that is gathering in the women's communities. The more we have a chance to interrelate and communicate, the better." Dawn Dale, Bridging Visions artist

"I have always been interested in Community Arts that is, art as a social tool, partly reflection and partly reflective to challenge societal thoughts, norms, beliefs, values." Bonnie Diamond, Executive Director, NAWL, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"Keep broadening the definition of Community Art - inspirational and thought provoking as well as diverse. Powerful." Sandra C., Toronto, Gallery Comments Book

"Community arts projects seem rare in Ottawa or like cities with more wealth than poverty. This project was interesting for that reason, seeing a supposedly ‘wealthy' and highly educated community come together with artists. Academics, the Professional community or CEO types don't often put time or energy into matters cultural unless lured in by some other incentive. I'd like to see more done with the women's law community." Sue-Ellen Gerritson, multi-disciplinary artist, curator, writer

"Women working in law are besieged by struggles for equality and art is one way to express it," Elizabeth Sheey, Professor of Law, co- developer of Templates for Activism project, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"I would love to become involved in any future projects. I have a legal background and strong feminist leanings, I am also trying to allow my sensitivities, which have been buried largely through my experience in the legal field, to play a greater role in informing my insights ..." Sharan Parmer, Human Rights Activist, Toronto

"I would very much like to see Templates go forward into other avenues ( hand in hand) with the legal community." Laurie Joe, lawyer, NAWL conference committee member

"I left the opening with a sense of the larger interdisciplinary opportunities that artists might access, contribute to, and benefit from in our own very political and active community....Could other non-exhibiting local artists have been involved/informed/participated in the legal forum/ interchange/dialogue in any way ?" Barbara Gamble, Artist, Ottawa, Gallery Comments Book


An art exhibition as an element of a legal conference

"Cette présentation avait lieu en même temps qu'un congrès de femmes avocates alors c'était d'une très grande cohérence." Diane Ranger, poete, Gatineau, Québec

"The exhibit is an effort to build bridges between communities, for lawyers to find other ways to express ideas and commitments and for artists to reach into the legal community and connect with legal struggles."
Elizabeth Sheey, Professor of Law, co- developer of Templates for Activism project, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance partcipant

"As Executive Director I somehow feel responsible for everything that touches the conference... Templates added a degree of complexity and risk to the conference. However, as with any risky ventures the dividends were high." Bonnie Diamond, NAWL Executive Director, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"A very thought provoking experience...a humdinger of a show in the City's own space! This alone was surprising, that the city would put something so political in a very public building." Sue-Ellen Gerritson, multi-disciplinary artist, curator, writer

"Although much of my legal work relates to the lived experiences of women, it was illuminating to see some of this experience reflected in non-verbal terms. The law is based on words, but people express themselves in many formats, not just verbally." Gina Hill, LL.D candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

"I was thrilled by the whole process and the exposure to feminist artists... seeing the law through a different window." Kay V. Marshall, feminist lawyer, NAWL conference committee member, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"I came away from the whole experience truly heartened. From my perspective, this process was all about access - an opening up of a series opportunities to observe and act, as an artist, in the context of the world of law thru the NAWL conference.... It was such a rare opportunity, as a group of ‘feminist’ artists, to have access to a privileged public space and, hence, the potential of engaging with a wide and diverse audience. The ‘traffic’ thru the gallery space is tenfold that of a typical artist-run-centre; therefore it was not the usual ‘preaching to the converted’ scenario. The exhibition site, the New City of Ottawa Gallery, is a public and easily accessible venue." Dawn Dale, Bridging Visions artist

"I have a particular interest in feminist installation/sculpture, especially by Canadian women artists. Somehow, I find their voices through their work acutely articulate much of how I feel in terms of certain gender issues one experiences in Canadian social fabric." Sharan Parmer, Human Rights Activist, Toronto

"J'ai beaucoup aimé l'exposition que tu as conçue et organisée ainsi que le texte que tu as signé. Bravo et félicitations pour tout." Dr. Aïda Kaouk, conservatrice, Musée des Civilisations, Gatineuu, Québec


Re legal quotes on gallery walls

"The texts were an essential part of the show. ... a very effective way to add another layer of meaning to each artwork by showing a connection to the related legal work. Also it brought a point of consistency to the presentation of the show as a whole."
Juliana MacDonald, artist

"I loved it and made sure that the authors were aware that they were being quoted." Laurie Joe, lawyer, NAWL conference committee member


NAWL members on Artists attending a law conference

"I found the insights by ...the...artists from the beginning and through the conference to be a valuable addition to the NAWL theme of intersecting diverse persons from different backgrounds to discuss law reform and social activism from a feminist perspective. ... I want to thank all of you [artists] for your efforts, your creative insights and energy which added much to the process of building a successful conference and to making it unique."
Laurie Joe, lawyer, conference committee member

"[The artists] give a different perspective and promote a creatvie atmosphere." Kay V. Marshall, feminist lawyer, NAWL conference committee member, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

" Terrific for your own perspective on issues. I really liked participation of non-lawyers in the working group sessions." Sharan Parmer, Human Rights Activist, Toronto

"I would have liked to have seen them better integrated .... a workshop with the artists discussing their motivation and experience in becoming involved with Templates and their interest in the subject of feminist law." Bonnie Diamond, NAWL Executive Director, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant


Bridging Visions Artists on the exhibition & conference experiences

"...it was important to have this opportunity".
Cindy Stelmackowich, Bridging Visions artist

"The NAWL conference brought another dimension to the exhibiting experience for me. Its most profound aspect of that was the opportunity to meet other women, serious about the feminisms they profess, and pro-active. I was introduced to a reality that had, beforehand, escaped my attention: The theory of feminism is impotent without a practice. The legal community puts academic theory into practice through its application in law. The intense legal scrutiny shed light on the shadowy parameters which shape the discriminatory nature of patriarchal law." Audrey Churgin, Bridging Visions artist, writer, Director, Canadaian Artists Represenation le front des artistes canadiens [CARFAC]

"... it would have been valuable to have had more time to really take on the full potential/scope of the project ... a real privilege to get to focus exclusively on the project...to give the subject the time it truly warranted. Art takes time. Entering into any community takes time, time to develop a sense of one another and to apprehend the needs of that group."
"The conference made me fully aware of the immense energy that flows thru the women¹s law community and of all the diverse areas their vigilance takes form on our behalf. ...It was a glimpse into the world/body of law as visioned by women."
Dawn Dale, Bridging Visions artist

The evening truly left me many strains of thought that I'm still savouring each passing moment." Melissa Pipe, musician, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant, Montreal

"... through the lectures I attended during the conference... I glimpsed everything from the day-to-day front-line hands-on effort to help those in distress, to the abstract but necessary world of legal theory. All this was new to me, uncomfortable, downright distressing!... I am more sensitive to the sufferings and the struggles of those who would like to help." Kathy Gillis, Bridging Visions Artist

" I enjoyed the conference immensely! The panels and workshops were intelligent and engaged. I did not feel that I wasted a moment.... my experiences were memorable." Gail Bourgeois, artist, conference volunteer, curator, writer


On learning

"It is the research element that draws us into the spheres of others' work and lives. I was looking forward to the conference- the energy of women- discovering the issues that were driving this year's conference....Just as artists are most certainly not a homogeneous group, lawyers come in so many fascinating varieties. I do wish artists interacted as much as I found the lawyers to be doing."
Dawn Dale, Bridging Visions artist

" I have had very little exposure to the arts in any format, let alone something as creative as this project. Although I know I grasped only bits and pieces of the exhibit, I take some solace in the realization that the artists were also grappling with how law and art intersect." Gina Hill, LL.D candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

"....filtered by my particular interest in how audiences understand art and how to make art accessible to audiences, especially contemporary art - it was very interesting to realise that those from the feminist law community had found it easy to understand and access certain parts of your work, 'Hearings at the Rape Maze'. ..., they recognised the significance of the words selected and understood their reference to pivotal cases and milestones with regard to rape and the law. The same privileged access' to understanding the words written on the white sticks is also true. Very interesting! Especially as I found myself in the 'unprivileged' group when viewing this aspect of your work. The issue of who usually finds contemporary art accessible, (cultural workers in the contemporary art community versus the 'general public'), was reversed." Judith Parker, Arts Educator, Ottawa

"I have a surface knowledge of issues facing women and the law. This experience made it more acute and provided stimulation to continue research ... interesting and relevant material that I found influenced my work and thinking." Gayle Kells, Bridging Visions artist

"I think it was significant. I have shared many of my ideas learned with others since." Cindy Stelmackowich, Bridging Visions artist

"Both groups, that is, lawyers and artists, look at our system of law and we see it differently. It is important for both groups to share and help to expand each other's vision." Kay V. Marshall, feminist lawyer, NAWL conference committee member, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant

"The conference also brought larger, international issues to my attention, particularly through the presentation made by Maude Barlow. As a politically involved artist, through the auspices of CARFAC, it was an opportunity for me to connect with an articulate speaker who easily characterized and explained some of the pressing issues before Canadian artists today. My skewed vantage point, listening as an artist, a feminist, and a political advocate, turned Ms. Barlow's phrasing such that it gave clarity to specific questions before me in my work. It was an excellent connection, and it is my hope that CARFAC can benefit from it." Audrey Churgin, Bridging Visions artist, Director, Canadian Artists Represenation le front des artistes canadiens[CARFAC]

"Tomorrow I am giving a paper at Concordia University. In writing that paper I have drawn extensively in spirit and from information heard at the NAWL conference." Gail Bourgeois, artist, conference volunteer, curator, writer

"I am surprised at all the business aspects of putting a show together. It always appears glamorous to me and all of sudden I realize it has a detailed, bureaucratic side to it as well." Bonnie Diamond, NAWL Executive Director, Hearings at the Rape Maze performance participant


Bridging Visions Artists on Law

"My personal experience with the law was at a young age, the lawyer was excessively patronistic towards my mother and myself. Like the rest of the world, I loved to hate lawyers. I wanted nothing to do with the law until my feminist sense of social responsibility kicked in and it became apparent that any change in society is brought about in a large scale thru the processes within the law."
Dawn Dale, Bridging Visions Artist

"...mais les lois actuellement ne sont pas faites pour aider les femmes. Il y a des actions de réalisé et tant miex." N.Tuyen Dang, Bridging Visions artist

"I tend to see law as a finger in the dam. We patch human moral leakage here and there but no matter how impeccable and in penetrable our patches are there is always yet another leak. The solutions lie elsewhere, but the constant patching is essential."
Kathy Gillis, Bridging Visions artist

"[post conference] I have more respect for the level of patience that feminist lawyers have to endure. Law moves slowly!" Cindy Stelmackowich, Bridging Visions artist


NAWL members on art's connection to their work

" I always felt we belonged together and that art segments added to head stuff would be dynamite. It didn't disappoint."
Bonnie Diamond, Nawl

"I felt that the exhibit brought forward the humanistic aspect of the law.... When one is studying or practising law it is usually stripped of emotion, like medicine, I suppose. Which is odd because these are tools to be employed for ourselves, maybe this is an aspect of its "maleness". The exhibit, especially the performance, brought me back to the driving force behind what we seek as legal remedies. It was an important moment for myself as a legal practitioner."
Sharan Parmer, Human Rights Activist, Toronto

"We wanted to work with legal language, pejorative language demonstrated in evidentiary practice… such as admittance of women's sexual history into evidence..." Elizabeth Sheehy in student interview

"... the art exhibit Template 2: Bridging Visions ... it gave me goosebumps just reading about it."
Genevieve Laurence, law student, University of Ottawa

"Being a feminist lawyer, I often feel alone in the wilderness but seeing the feminist art recharges my batteries...Why not have a display in the courthouse where the lawyers and often the frustrated public can enjoy it? " Kay V. Marshall, feminist lawyer

"I think it would be interesting to have women at law school use art to express their experience of law school, making sure that there was a diverse group of women selected. Then display it at the school itself (maybe after the participants graduated and noone had power over them any longer)."
Bonnie Diamond, NAWL


From the gallery Comments Book

"Fabulous work, women !"
Susan B Boyd, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia

"Wow. This is one heavy Art show. Wondered in "off the street" so to speak. Just great. I shall spread the word..." R. Leonard, Ottawa

"Paying attention...I am hearing your voice. Thank you." Mary K.

"I am deeply moved."
Barbara Nathan-Marcus, sociologist, activist, artist, former Women's Studies lecturer, Brock University

"Thank you. I remember who I am. People in this society constantly need reminders. I am a concerned, intelligent woman. I remember now." J.H.M

"A cohesive and provocative show." Christine Conley, Art Historian, lecturer, independent curator

"..diversifée mais cohérente. Fort impact". Marie France Nitski, artiste

"I took the time to LISTEN to all the sonic stuff and read the programme – It's a VERY LAYERED AND INFORMATIVE SHOW." Claude Dupont

"Very strong exhibit - not to be rushed." MA

"I stood for so many minutes searching for words to describe my reaction ....- and none of them really describe my ... very heady pleasure ...that I was able to come from Toronto to see this..." SL

"Yesterday I attended a feminist Seder - a celebration of human freedom and liberation. Your exhibit brought it all together for me in a very visual way." Evelyn R.

"A very important show."
B.J.J.

"Thought provoking, stirring and communicative. Would like to see this expanded to all municipal galleries and more artists." Shastan

"Very brave work" Nancy M. G.

"... "thought reaching"...on going issues that need to be addressed." Lynn Scott

"Will come back to absorb more. Thank you so much. Very moving and heart felt - very female and real....also thoughtful, caring and hopeful. (The comments in this book are also very interesting ! As an ongoing part of the exhibition)" Michelle A.

"Great - CREATIVE SHOW - SIMPLE & SO DEEP - Makes you think A LOT - LISTENING HELPS to change and RESPECT HUMANS FOR HUMANS" Agnes K., Berlin


The backlash - from the gallery Comments Book

"We all have a democratic right to make changes [for better we hope] in our society. It's absolute rubbish to say that part of our society imposes on another. What the purpose of this display ?"
Al K.

"I find this very obsessive, offensive." Harold G.

"This kind of stuff where the form encodes an explicit message is, even a text, is ubiquitous & I'm tired of it..." A.H.C.

"Nice logo for feminist show. What is it supposed to represent - women's issues? Talk about double standards of decrying men's penile focus in architecture and design when all that is women's group show representational figure vulva! Not impressed" no signature

"It's a show, isn't it! A pop culture show — There's not much. But it is interesting –stretch here" D.

"I think that most of these things trivialize the problems they're intended to symbolize." Bob A.

"I am more of an art -for-art's-sake type. "Message" art? Propaganda." no signature

next message in book - "Some things need to be said - art is not immune / safe ... unless it is "owned" - majority of art that doesn't have a message at all falls into this category. Bravo all who have work here." Arlene MacLowick, Literacy Consultant
 


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© 2002 Templates for Activism
c.j. fleury
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