It’s now been over a year since we ended our rigorous journey on the Peel River. I can vividly remember approaching the last shore of our journey. With new formed tributaries cracked through my weathered hands, I walked off what felt like my new home on the river onto land. My mind so full of new sensations that I was left stunted and unable to find the right words to contextualize what I had just experienced. I thought this would get easier, but still, a year later I am still trying to figure out what it all meant. How has this project changed me? How has my artistic practice been influenced? Letting go of the idea that by simply having this profound experience, I might be able to ‘change the world’, I realized the most helpful thing for me is accepting that I don’t have to have the answers. That I am still trying to figure out my role as an artist in such a big conversation such as the Peel Watershed. All I can do is continue to be honest to my process. Make marks and stay true to my own narrative as I reflect on how this experience has altered my sense of self and how I view my practice.
Here is some images of my most recent exhibition in response to the Peel at Art Point Gallery. This experience provided me the opportunity to explore what was my most intimate and visceral encounter with the natural world. I continue to challenge my own changing perceptions of nature and the possibility of connecting with it.
DANIEL J. KIRK
Daniel J Kirk has continued to expand his arts practice in many directions since the adventure to the Peel. His processes-based work has yielded carving, building/installation and community projects. Kirk continues to grow his Studio practice as a form of relationship building and community development. He has worked on many commissions and large scale public works in his home town of Calgary and had a chance to visit Fort McMurray to paint a large mural in the summer of 2015.
For the past year I have been creating Peel Project Inspired creations. I have made work based on my observations and emotions from the trip. Some of my test pieces include:
“Blood Moon” is a wall-mounted red moon created by sandcast glass and illuminated with an L.E.D light panel. For 4 months before the trip, I had taken birth control to skip my period. Historically, women shed on the full moon, and while on the river, the biggest full moon came out and every woman got their period.
“Cold feet” is a mold of my own feet, kiln casted in glass to make the feet appear icy. The title is also a pun… it refers to how I wanted to flee the expedition initially.
“Wet wood” is a wooden installation comprised of several small wooden peels, created by the carving back of wet Yukon sticks. This sculpture is about the struggle of making a fire after it has rained all night.
Well. It’s just past the one year mark since our trip. And much like last year, my goal for the winter is to settle in and work on the Peel memoir/ novel hybrid. I put down 50 000 words last year, and I expect to do the same this year. Dedicated writing time is hard to come by, since I need a 9-5 job to pay the bills. I’ve significantly changed my lifestyle since last year, moving out of Vancouver and to a small island off the coast. Got myself a little cabin, and a lot of time. The manuscript has made its way into the hands of two agents (who want to see it again when it’s completed) and I’ve decided to make it my thesis project for my MFA next year at the University of British Columbia. So it’s not a quick process, but in the meantime, I’ve published Peel-related stories, both fiction and non-fiction, in PRISM International, This Magazine, and In This Together: Fifteen True Stories of Real Reconciliation, an anthology (Brindle & Glass, Spring 2016). My first book, Bad Endings, is coming out with Anvil Press in 2017, and it will also contain some Peel-inspired short fiction.
The main thing right now is preparing for the February screening of the Peel documentary in Calgary, and also Tony and my soundscape project at the Arts Commons, which will run from December to April. It’s called Confluence at Aberdeen Canyon. More on that as it unfolds.
Since paddling The Peel in the fall of 2014, I’ve worked on a couple of different projects. The first was a lovely exhibition and publication called 10X10, which celebrates Queer Canadians in the arts. As one of the photographers for 2015 I got a chance to meet and collaborate with ten fantastic Queer Canadian artists in order to create environmental portraits that revealed aspects of their identities as artists and individuals through space. The exhibition was held at the Gladstone Hotel during Toronto Pride this past June, and in total displayed a hundred portraits of Queer Canadians.
More recently, I’ve had photographs from The Peel exhibited in Gallery 44’s new Production Gallery – a contemporary photography cooperative at 401 Richmond in Toronto – with two other photographer’s with a special interest in Canada’s Arctic. Entitled Going North the exhibition highlights the unique and beautiful spaces found north of the Arctic Circle from all three of the Territories.
Personally change is in the air. In less then a month I will be moving out of Toronto and living in a truck-camper combo, and seeing where the road takes me.
Photo caption: Cutting bulk printed photographs at Toronto Image Works in preparation for our first Peel group show at Arts Commons in Calgary.
Its been over a year Since we left the river and its been such an amazing process to turn the experience, emotions and memory into a musical form. Happy to announce an album has been written of songs based around the Peel. Six songs and three string quartets. Currently I am in the middle of recording all the pieces. I am recording at Studio 110 a recording space I have opened since the Peel project took shape, and have invited many talented musical friends to lend their voices.
Carleigh Baker & I have been working towards a sound scape installation of music, poetry and sounds from our trip. It will go on display Dec 15th in Calgary at arts commons and will run till April 2016.