In case you missed Elizabeth D’Agostino’s last show, here’s a little behind-the-scenes Q&A (plus lots of images). By Tara Cooper
5 questions with Elizabeth D’Agostino
1. What’s your elevator pitch for your current show?
Makeshift chronicles my fascination with tree grafting and attempts to create a catalogue of re-organized components and fictional categories of nature with an invented narrative. I’m interested in the complexities of the changing landscape emphasizing how various paths of nature have been interrupted by rapidly producing populations.
2. What was your strategy for the install at Loop? Were there any challenges?
The work unfolds organically when I install. Although I work around the specific measurements of the gallery each installation of prints and ceramic evolves. The work is built from layers printed onto Washi paper and clay objects arranged within each installation. I have an idea of how things are going to be arranged but when I starting installing everything gets reorganized. The multiple layers and placement of each component can be challenging because it always involves alot of adding, subtracting and moving of parts. There’s usually a big internal sigh of relief and good gut feeling when everything just sits right and the compositional relationships work well with each other.
I enjoy this aspect of the work because it’s still part of the “making” and depending on the space it always varies.
3. How do you spend your time when you’re not working in the studio?
My life is a balance between work, family and studio. I’m the Managing Director at Toronto School of Art and I’m lucky to work with so many artists and creative people. I’m also the mom of a busy 5 year old. Lego and Superheros consume my life right now. I love gardening and it’s a big part of my life as well as my well being. Right now we are preparing the gardens for spring. Everyone pitches in and helps with the gardens, even our dog Diesel. We have started our vegetable seedlings and with the recent warm temperatures I love looking at new growth in the garden.
Image “Lego Hovercrafts” by Sebastian
This fall I moved my mother out of the family home which she lived in for 50 years since moving to Canada. It was both difficult and exciting all at the same time. Lots of stories and many great treasures were found. I’m sure they will find their way into future artworks in some form. I was pretty sad to leave the garden that my parents built to another family but I know they will enjoy it eventually have their own stories.
4. What artist living or dead would you most like to have dinner with? What would you order? What question would you ask him/her?
I would love to meet Nancy Spero. She was so inspirational as an artist, printmaker, feminist, mother. Her work addressed the realities of political violence and as a she developed a distinct body of work using so many mediums including drawing, painting, collage and printmaking. She was so active as an artist even up until her death despite battling degenerative arthritis.
I’m not sure what I would order because I would probably to nervous to eat. I would just listen to her and let the conversation unfold.
5. What’s next in terms of your studio practice?
I’m fascinated with the Cicada insect. They are so magical and I love hearing the sounds they make. When I was in graduate school I learned about the 17 year Cicada emergence. The sound is so unforgettable. Various “Broods” or species make their appearance every 17 years in parts of North America. Brood V will emerge this spring in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Sounds like a road trip to gather some footage and sounds.
Not sure what is going to unfold in the studio but once I gather images and footage things begin to take shape. I would like to combine digital images with hand drawn images so I will likely start with a new series of drawings. Makeshift was a big project for me as it was originally created for the Kelowna Art Gallery and carried over into this exhibition at Loop with some new pieces particularly the ceramic objects.
I’m also really excited to start working with the Nature Centre at High Park. They have this terrific community project called the “Urban Bat Project”. You can rent out a monitor and help collect data on the bats in and around Toronto and learn about their habitats.
Right now, I’m looking for a bit of a break from making things and just focusing on research and gathering sources for the next body of work.