A&E » Arts

Forest I, forest person

A contemporary take on colonization, urban sprawl and the concept of trash at the SLCC



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"It wasn't until I was an adult that I started thinking of it in terms of Mayan cultural forms. But we're weavers, textile weavers," she explained.

"Everyone in the world has twining and twilling - everyone that does weaving ­- in different forms. And there are real fascinating tricks and once you get into it, it's very exciting to see the differences and the similarities," she said, adding that regional variations include design, colour, material, technique and styles.

Her latest project, Forest Person, was born out of a small series that ross started in 2004: she wove "fancy clothes" for found objects - a collection of in-tact and broken knick-knacks that she scavenged from the trash and thrift stores.

"That series is called Happy Birthday Super Cheaper, and it's like 40 different animals," she recalled. "It's named after a gas station in Northern California."

That gas station mini mart was "a wacky place" filled with papier-mâché life-sized elephants, tigers and giraffes wearing party hats. But the Super Cheaper was eventually torn down to make way for a chain gas station, and the animals ended up in the landfill.

"So the Happy Birthday Super Cheaper was about how labour and just one person sitting silently alone takes trash, and now suddenly it's a special item. And that's the lesson for everyone: it's our work that's a transformative act for everything on the planet."

She decided to carry that message forward with Forest Person when she saw that SFU was cutting down cedar trees to make way for condo developments.

"I wanted to reuse the bark and make something out of them," she recalled.

"I was driven, then, to take these beautiful materials that were just lying on the ground, waiting for the haulers to pick them up, and make something out of them!"

She began making woven bottle holders and cracker boxes, but soon the idea of weaving the car came to her in a dream. The car, she explained, symbolizes industrialization and modernization.

"I love the car, I love my car - everyone loves their car - it helps us so much to do so many things. But now the car is disappearing because of fossil fuels, and the price of the car is too high," ross reflected. "...So we have to just use it in a different way, so what comes after the car?"

She selected the sturdy, steel Nash Metropolitan as the canvas for this project, covering it in the salvaged bark and images of the sasquatch, sturgeon, camus root, whale, double-headed wind serpent, frog, owl, butterfly, lightning, rain and a lake ­- objects that have helped sustain people over the years, things that aren't in danger of disappearing.