If you drop by the Trampoline office sometime soon, and I hope you do, you’ll notice a new piece of art hanging outside our boardroom. After a couple years' break, we’ve revived our membership with AGNS and the Teichart Gallery Art Rental Program. Why did we stop? For some reason, we felt that a COVID office was not as worthy as a pre & post-COVID office. Crazy, right? The program continues to be an amazing way to brighten up your office (or home) and support local artists at the same time.
‘The Curator’ is a striking creation by Lunenburg resident Alison Mitchell. Before coming across this mesmerizing piece, I was not familiar with Alison’s work. Do yourself a favor and check out her site, or even better, drop by the Lunenburg Art Gallery or the Teichert Gallery in Halifax to see more of her work. She’s not a native Maritimer but is now one of ours as much as she is an Upper Canadian.
What struck me about this particular fibre art, and why I think it is perfect for an advertising agency lobby, is not just the unexpected medium but also the asymmetry. Art in an office lobby is most often predictably paint on canvas. For me, the yarn on linen is a metaphor for how we should approach our jobs as creators. We’ve all heard the adage, “if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.” Well, we need to make sure that we approach all our assignments with a lot more than a hammer in our toolbox and make sure that we keep coming up with fresh approaches. Like everyone, I get stuck in patterns of behavior that produce the predictable. Great communication is achieved when we present the audience with surprises that they still recognize. It can’t be so unfamiliar that they don’t see themselves in it. But also, can’t be so ‘everyday’ that they quickly bore of it.
If the form of The Curator is one of creativity, the composition is of community. It reminds me that advertising is a team sport. It’s done best when two or more inspire and challenge one another. Here the person on the bench has invitingly left plenty of room for their partner to join them on the bench or on the task at hand.
Of course, I’m sad about the past three years that have tilted the world in ways we uncover more and more every day, but what personally disturbs me most is how I have given myself permission to take shortcuts, quit without reason, and just remove the general discipline I know to be the root of most success. My resolution for 2024, that I’ll be reminded of every time I pass ‘The Curator,’ is to approach everything with a healthy amount of optimism and enthusiasm that will help me be at my best and do my best!
I didn’t always have this much flaking pink paint on my forearms and bits of yarn in my hair. Before I surrendered to mysterious, persistent whispers to make art, I spent 16 years in a suit, immersed in dark subjects. I interviewed and prepared witness statements for victims of the Darfur conflict who described the slaughter of their children. I rescheduled meetings with senior officials in a war zone because my uniformed escorts had just been killed by roadside bombs. I observed alleged terrorists in jumpsuits hunched over behind two-way mirrors. Over nearly a decade of teaching, I’ve suggested to hundreds of fresh-faced law students that they should be optimistic about the future. But I tossed and turned at night, and contentment, let alone joy, felt elusive.
Making art has helped bring more lightness to my worldview. More than therapy, more than exercise, more than green smoothies. (Though those things have helped too!) To date my work has mostly featured people, but my new collection - Stilleven - reflects my take on an old classic: the still life. I hope the vibrant, simple portraits of some of my favourite objects from the house and flowers from the garden turn a few frowns upside down.
- Alison Mitchell, December 2023