Johnson Jaymie

Residencia 2020
Residència 2020
Jaymie Johnson

As part of my proposed project I will be recording my own consumption while in residence (with every intention to lessen it) through the production of cordage; I am committed to working with only reused, found, and natural materials for this project, and; despite my permanent address in Canada, I am already in Europe moving around slowly by bicycle as much as possible, and intend to arrive and depart CACiS by bicycle should I receive a residency.

APPROACH AND PROJECT PROPOSAL: As an emerging artist and educator with a foundation in drawing and printmaking, my process-orientated practice has come to incorporate plants, paper, textiles, and plastic as key elements. I use these natural, found, and recycled materials to create site-specific sculpture, installation, and works on paper that investigate our relationship to place and the ecosystems that we belong to.
My recent and ongoing projects investigate the relationship between plants, plastic, and plasticity. Plasticity, the quality of being easily shaped or molded, refers to the nature of materials as well as the adaptability of organisms to respond to their environment – a quality necessary for all living creatures now more than ever. I explore these relationships in both literal and conceptual ways, addressing questions such as: can plastic, ubiquitous in our ever-evolving ecosystems, ethically fit into an environmental artist’s material practice; how can we/I seek comfort while still acknowledging the environmental crisis we’re in; and, how can collective learning and sharing generate action and help dissolve apathy? In my individual practice this manifests as meditative ‘daily drawing’ regimens that in process allow for respite and in result, an inventory of my consumption as a baseline for reflection and improvement. In my community-engaged practice this typically manifests as ‘making circles’ where community members contribute towards the handwork component of a larger installation. A methodology inherited by my mentor, Sharon Kallis, these circles offer an opportunity to share stories and skills while centering reciprocity and relationships as of equal or greater importance than a final physical form. Both practices centre site-specificity, material investigation, and a discerned effort to mitigate environmental degradation by using natural, locally grown or gleaned, and repurposed materials and byproducts. All of my recent and ongoing works reflect a practice of direct, indirect, and/or ephemeral record-keeping – through the concentric circles of coil basketry that holds record of invasive plants on site and the diverse hands of their community-makers, collaborative mapping with elementary school students, or drawn ‘inventories’ of daily detritus and consumption.

While in residence at CACiS, my investigations will be rooted in a daily practice of drawing and cordage twisting, a repetitive foundation upon which to build a relationship with and understanding of the land. In contrast to my previous daily drawing projects that have recorded plants and plastic into accordion books the length of my stay in a place, for this project I intend to create drawings of the environment from the environment itself as a way to merge my environmental installation practice with my drawing practice and eliminate some waste in the process.
I intend to create two continuous lines of cordage throughout my time at CACiS, one will be made from plants and organic material gleaned on site and nearby (ethically and responsibly, in consultation with CACiS staff) and the other will be made from my own consumer waste (predicted to be primarily if not solely food-based packaging) and any inorganic waste found on site or nearby.

The resulting spools of cordage will be a near chronological record of my time in residence, portraying both seasonal changes reflected in the organic material used as well as the availability/dependency of packaged foods and products in this particular rural location in Catalonia reflected in the inorganic waste materials used. At the end of my time in residence I intend to make use of this inorganic cordage in any way possible, if it’s useful at CACiS I will leave it to be used, but otherwise I will take it with me to use for the remainder of my time cycle touring. With this everlengthening cordage I will perform a daily drawing practice by creating ‘line drawings’ upon the land and suspended from trees, perhaps implementing coil basketry techniques to help bind the cordage together to create these hanging drawings. A singular specific plant (to be determined once on site) will be the subject of these drawings which will be subtle, meditative, laborious, experimental, low-impact, of a scale determined by my length of time on site and the site itself, and intended to exist only a day or two before being disassembled to lengthen the cordage and recreate in a new location. The location of these drawings will be intentional, encouraging viewers to take a specific position, either to view from above or below or at an angle that allows for a new experience of the site – perhaps laying or kneeling on the ground to view a drawing suspended above will give viewers the opportunity to smell the earth or hear the sound of an insect in this location.
Once I’ve had a chance to build this practice and relationship with the land at CACiS, I would welcome the opportunity to involve the local community to participate in the creation of cordage and/or an ephemeral line drawing on the land. I would be particularly interested to host handwork or drawing time that facilitated the sharing of stories in relation to the local ecology and changes witnessed in the recent years. As a visitor to this land I want to come ready to observe, ask questions and listen, to the land and the people who call this place home.

My objective as a socially-engaged artist and educator is to foster a practice that is culturally sensitive, intellectually rigorous and takes an experimental, collaborative, and inquiry-based approach to critically investigate our relationship to ‘natural’ spaces and to foster reciprocal and generative connections with these spaces. Spending time at CACiS would greatly expand my emerging practice and support my objective and growth as an artist with the intention to offer value to the community at and around CACiS. As an emerging artist creating collaborative and site-specific work in response to the environment, CACiS offers an exceptionally relevant space in which to accelerate my artistic growth.

The opportunity to immerse myself in a rural setting that fosters experimental site-responsive work, collaboration, and values radical action beyond just aesthetics would be of great value to my development as an environmental artist, specifically at this stage in my career. My practice has developed within a small but rigorous community of environmental artists in Vancouver, making this my first opportunity to build relationships through an arts organization outside of Canada and the U.S.