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MEET THE ARTIST
"This series, titled “Just a Moment”, I portray contemporary mothers in a raw, intimate and authentic way. While I was going through mental health struggles after my third child and balancing work and family obligations, my life was spiralling. One day, I stared at a simple portrait of my grandmother with her eyes closed which I had painted more than a decade earlier and it struck me - I understood what she went through and felt connected to her in an intimate way. I had to go back and create art again.
Stemming from the need to connect with others and my art while going through this time, I asked mothers on social media to take a moment for themselves to reflect and share with me a selfie with their eyes closed. I was overwhelmed with the response. I received over 100 private messages with testimonials on the inner struggles of contemporary motherhood, a discussion not normally presented on curated social media pages. I took these reference photos and started to reconnect with myself and my art practice in a healing journey of self-discovery. For this series of encaustic on wood panels, I wanted to elevate the simple selfie in a dramatic way, scratching, revealing surfaces and new meaning. I use photo-transfers on the hot wax and remove the paper revealing only the ink on the surface on the painting. Wanting to tie the idea of connection and support between mothers and their families, I brought in the imagery of mushrooms, vines and feathers that refer back to connection with deeper roots, where life seems fragile but continues to grow and regenerate. This process with encaustic has been a way for me to physically and spiritually connect with others mothers and to know I’m not alone, we are all here facing some of the same issues and we just need to take a moment for ourselves."
Camille Myles is an award-winning contemporary Canadian artist and conservation activist of French-Canadian descent working in a variety of media. Art that speaks to its environment and draws the viewer in as an active participant, is of particular interest to the artist.
Trained classically in Fine Arts, archaeology and conservation, she received a visual arts diploma from Dawson College (2001) in Montreal and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (2004) from Ottawa University. Camille pursued a Masters Degree in Heritage Conservation, Carleton University (2008).
Constantly re-imagining herself and pushing her own boundaries, she has also pursued an engaging career as a brand manager and conservation professional, being the youngest Park Superintendent and rebranding of Parks Canada. She’s worked at art museums, artist run centres and non-profit advocacy organizations which has informed her artistic practice.
In 2012, Camille was honoured to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. She was also finalist of the prestigious RBC Canadian Art New Painting Competition (2002). She was also awarded an honourable mention for the Jacqueline Fry Prize and a nomination to the Suzanne-Rivard-Lemoyne Prize for excellence in contemporary art given by Ottawa University.
Being drawn to the power of public art as a social community conversation, the artist has been exploring large-scale sculptural installations with Midland’s newest public art piece titled “Sown” (2021) with Holly Archer and Penetanguishene’s well-received new public art titled “The Land of the White Rolling Sands” (2020). Originally from Gatineau, Quebec, she is now proud to call Georgian Bay home, living in Tiny, Ontario with her husband and three young children.
Motherhood Chronicles is a social art experiment and an ode to the hidden feelings of contemporary motherhood through a series of intimate paintings in encaustic and egg tempera.
Recently, I initiated a social art project by reaching out through social media to other mothers, asking them to take a moment of authentic self-reflexion illustrating their vulnerabilities and expressing themselves through selfies, with their eyes closed (#motherhoodchroniclesart). After receiving more than 70 submissions, the overwhelming response exemplified the need to listen to those silence voices. They shared something completely different from what they portray in the public realm. They commented on how important it was to show their “real” side.
We often take great care with our outward appearance, especially on social media platforms, thus this process forces the subject to be less conscious of what they might look like and ground themselves to their feelings. We’re connecting, talking and supporting each other in a raw, intimate way. Expectations of life on contemporary mothers seem unsustainable; balancing careers, homeschooling, self-care expectations, playing different roles, and being at the foundation of a family unit.
To deal with my own struggles of motherhood, I felt compelled to let go of the process by involving those women around me, thus telling their individual stories through paintings that seem erased and evoke the concept of the ‘Mothertree’ - where trees communicate through a network of intricate fungi hidden beneath the forest floor. In many ways, being a mother often means putting aside one’s self and this project allows me to reaffirm that it’s never too late to question oneself, to reimagine your place.
In my work, I look to amplify the feminine voice and underrepresented through reflections and self-portraits, engage the viewer in the their own self-consciousness and tell stories about place.