Moving Home Project



Moving Home: The Art and Embodiment of Transience Among Youth Emerging from Canada’s Child Welfare System is my MA thesis in Human Geography at York University.

Working with 15 co-researcher artists ages 18-29 with lived experience in care in Toronto and Whitehorse, this project questioned what sort of people is the child welfare system inadvertently creating through multiple placements. Subsections include a focus on emotions, relations and movement depicted in the art, and a chapter on the emergent theme of resilience and resistance, and the urge to give back and create a community for former youth in care.

The research had public talk August 17th at Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, and another talk TBD in Whitehorse. A zine version of the thesis will been launched as well as an art show presented Critical Distance Centre for Curators August 17 to 26.

Here is a link to copy of my thesis on Google Drive, as well as a copy of the zine. I’m happy to say I successfully defended, and my thesis was nominated for two thesis awards at York University!





Audio Intro via YouTube

Artist Statement: The internet is about connection. Data connection, human connection, intellectual and dating connection and a myriad of more. The anonymity of it allows us to be ourselves in ways we might not feel comfortable in person, and this can be manifested in both positive and negative ways.

performancescript-page-001performancescript-page-002Back in 2000, when dial-up connected us to the World Wide Web, along with aol, chat rooms, and that annoying dancing hamster, LiveJournal emerged as an early social networking site, before that was even a term. LiveJournal is an anonymous and public journal platform, where strangers can comment and discuss your posts.

I will be reading aloud 5 unedited sequential posts from my LiveJournal in the winter of 2001-2002. The journal as an archive is a way to explore, express, and in this case seek support. The issues and struggles of being a daughter and sibling of people with mental illness are performed verbatim. In between each reading of an entry, I will interact with the participant/audience members who have taken the name badges and roles; Social Worker, Family Doctor, Psychiatrist, & Guidance Counsellor, by asking the question, “What should I do?”

Each discipline within the mental health system had different advice. And the truth is, 14 years later I am still asking the same question, along with thousands of other people struggling to support their loved ones with Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.

By reliving these questions I asked as a teen, I take comfort in the fact that this feeling of not knowing what to do is cyclical, just like mental illness. That time moves at different paces. I see that at present with our societal view of mental illness, there are simultaneously no answers to my questions, and too many that do nothing.

This performance was a final work for a Cultural Production Class, ENVS 6348 at York University, December 2015.

Rejection Collage




Artist Statement: This piece represents the majority of art in the Yukon, and an innovative way to continue working with and through rejection. Using my last rejection letter from the Advanced Artist Award, and mixed paper acquired at the Visitor’s Centre, this project was created onsite, and speaks for the 70% of Yukon artists whose work does not get funded. Caught in a cycle of paperwork, some projects reapply, and some never end up materializing. Every artist, every human experiences the disappointment of rejection. But we must move forward. This piece meditates on this, simultaneously highlighting all the work that goes on behind the scenes to be order to live and create, and acknowledging all those which do not develop further. By creating this work that is valued at the exact original amount I applied for, this piece becomes conceptual and transforms, exploring the intersection of grants and the creative process, and embodying art’s ability to respond and represent.

This work is priced at $5000, the amount of the grant I was rejected for, and will be submitted yearly to the Yukon Permanent Art Collection Acquisition Call, as the price is part of the concept and life of the work. This piece was originally created in July 2015, as part of the En Pleine Air Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon, put on my Yukon Artists at Work.

River Guide



Guided meditations are notoriously cheesy. In River Guide, I play with the public and the private, the past and the now using the medium of satirical guided meditations. I am recording sounds on location, and then writing a guided meditation to connect a public place as a private inner world and experience. I am hoping to connect people to these places in a new and meaningful way, while also poking some fun at the silly metaphors guided meditations can use.

These satirical guided meditations are concerned with specific locations along the Yukon River in Whitehorse; the wharf, the dam, Robert Service campground, the S.S Klondike and Shipyards Park. I am a participating artist in the Yukon Plein Air Arts Festival July 6th-10th 2014, and these are the designated locations for the 20 participating artists to create at.

People listening to River Guide are encouraged to close their eyes, and imagine being these spaces and places. For example, when listening to the meditation, You Are The Wharf, ‘Breathe in Breeze, Breathe out Tourists…’

River Guide was display at Yukon Artists at Work Gallery in Whitehorse, as part of the Plein Air Arts Festival show, ending August 4th.

River Guide is a part of Culture Days this year. Saturday September 27th from 12-4 PM at the Old Fire Hall, you can come by and get download cards for the audio tracks, and from 3-4 PM you can borrow an Mp3 player and headphones to give yourself a walking tour.

Traveling with Nyki


Nyki Kish is in prison for a crime she claims she didn’t commit. I have worked on and off in jail outreach for years. What the incarcerated often fear most is being forgotten. Nyki was a traveler, and so am I, and one day we had a conversation about me putting her head on a popsicle stick and taking photos of her on my travels, so it would be as if she was still out and about and free in the world. Over the years, I have taken Nyki to several countries and around the North quite a bit. Here is are some of my favourites from Northern Canada and Alaska. The use of a poor image is a conscious one.

This is an ongoing project.

Houseboat Happiness, Yellowknife

Solo Show, Chena Lakes

Solo Show, Chena Lakes

Bison Highway, BC

Sheep Mountain, Kluane Lake

Sheep Mountain, Kluane Lake

Snowmobile Nyki

Snowmobile Nyki

Dyea, Alaska!

Dyea, Alaska!


Largest Goldpan in THE WORLD

Vinyl Tarot


Listen to awesome records, and figure out your life at the same time. Vinyl Tarot. A working tarot deck made of records. The cover art, artist and specific song unite, creating the coolest deck ever. Music influences our lives in so many ways. Vinyl Tarot is upfront about that influence.

I have made the Major Arcana (22 Cards)*, but I am working on digitizing the deck with it’s own website, and then completing the deck (78 cards total) during an upcoming residency. I plan to perform Vinyl Tarot at select festivals and venues in Western Canada this summer, then pass the deck into the loving hands of Weird Canada!

Check it out

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Temperance, Heirophant, Chariot and Magician cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Hanged Man, Fool, World and Strength cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made of records

Clockwise, top left; Devil, Justice, Hermit and Death cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Sun, Wheel of Fortune, Star and Moon cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made out of records

Clockwise, top left; Emperor, Tower, Empress and High Priestess cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made out of records

Left; Judgement and Lovers cards

The first performance of this piece was at Dawson City’s Riverside Arts Festival. I’ve done small readings around the North with this piece, and it was in-residence at Rue Studio on Manitoulin island, Ontario, for a year. I’ve created an accompanying booklet that describes the card’s significance, and how to do a simple, 3 card/song Gestalt reading. Each reading takes about 15 minutes, to explain the card, and then listen to the song.

For example, Billy Joel, ‘Only the Good Die Young’ is the Death card. Boney M, ‘Rasputin’ is the Strength card. Prince, ‘You Got the Look’ is the Magician. Tom Waits is Judgement, The Singing Nun is Temperance and the High Priestess is Aretha Franklin.

Check back for more news about this project.

*record selection is minimal in the Yukon, so I need an urban residency to complete Vinyl Tarot

CD Collage Party


So, you may or may not know of my musical career as Big Mama Lele. I have been up late, gluey fingers and tiny bits of paper everywhere, making custom CD artwork.  The album is called GDFC, because that is chord progression for all of the songs. Each of these unique collages is called something different, beginning with the letters GDFC, to celebrate all you can do and say with only 4 chords.

Check it out

GDFC Artwork

(Top Left) Gentle Days For Cats, Giant Delicious F**king Club Sandwich

(Top, Centre) Growling Dominant Ferocious Cougar, Galactic Demonic Fire Car!

I have made a limited number of collages for GDFC, and they will be available for sale at my CD Release, and afterwards, remaining ones (if any) may be ordered online though

Big Mama Lele's ReRelease