Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Aganetha Dyck: Art Hero

I have never met Gathie Falk, Wanda Koop, or Aganetha Dyck, but they serve as role models. You see, we all have something in common: we are all female artists of Russian Mennonite heritage. Mennonites aren't really supposed to be visual artists. In the Mennonite community where I grew up, it was acceptable to be a musician, it was OK to write (as a hobby), but to be a visual artist was iffy.
©Aganetha Dyck;  Image from Michael Gibson Gallery
"Glass Jar with Beige Wax and Flower Broach with Pearl", 1984 Glass Jar with buttons 9.3 x 3.3 x 3.3 in. SOLD

Of this trio of artists, the work of Aganetha Dyck speaks to me the most. Aganetha's work is rooted in the domestic: in canning, knitting, felting, and bee-keeping. But with a twist. When her studio occupied an old button factory, she used the materials at hand using a technique likely taught to her by her mother: she canned the buttons. Aganetha shrunk wool clothing for her Shrunken Clothing Series, and moved on to collaborating with bees. Her work with bees put her work in an entirely new light. In 2007, she won the Canadian Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Thank you Gathie, Wanda, and Aganetha for persevering.

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