Emel Thomson ~ Canada

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Artist: " Emel Thomson is a Canadian artist living in Chicago. Originally from Montreal, Emel received a BA in drawing and painting with a minor in art history from OCAD University and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago."

Eleven Rooms
By Emel Thomson
Chicago: Emel Thomson, 2016. Edition of 25.

8.25 x 5.75'"; 38 pages. Materials: silk thread, human hair, beeswax. Printing: digital offset color on matte white paper. Pamphlet sewn binding in paper wraps. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Emel Thomson: "In Eleven Rooms, I examine the relationship between language, form, context, and displacement. I appropriated excerpts from three literary works and used these excerpts to create a text-based version of the 2015 Doris Salcedo retrospective at MCA Chicago. The three texts I draw from are Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony and God, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin. This project explores the interaction between the work of three writers and an artist, and the tensions between reality and imagination, language and visual art.

"The appropriated texts were determined through chance operations, a technique used by many artists including John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, and André Breton. It is a method where I abandon and reclaim control, to bypass the conscious mind and open the artwork to unexpected outcomes. I determined the text for each page by using a predetermined set of rules to preclude personal selection.

"Synchronicity between text and sculptural themes occur surprisingly often throughout the book, such as Virginia Woolf’s line in room 11, 'he must pluck the petals from a rose.' The installation in room 11 is a shroud composed entirely of rose petals."


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By Emel Thomson
Chicago: Emel Thomson, 2016. Edition of 25.

7” x 5 1/8”, 40 pages. Printed on Japanese handmade paper. Materials include beeswax, mica, giclée prints, and holy dirt from the pilgrimage site of El Santuaro de Chimayo. Covers vary in design and are made from either Japanese paper or felt. Signed and numbered.

Emel Thomson: "mary, examines the role of the Catholic Church in forced adoption in Québec in the mid-20th century. The book appropriates renaissance images of the Virgin and Child, a symbol of Catholicism that has often been used to reinforce situations of oppression and injustice against women and children. Mary’s image functions as the ideal model of feminine purity and passive, submissive and humble endurance, a particular patriarchal view of women’s roles and identities. Two of the paintings are by Leonardo who was ironically born out of wedlock and taken from his mother as a young child.

"Unwed mothers were coerced in signing surrender documents in Canada between 1940-1970. The book includes written accounts and experiences of forced adoption, the shame that kept the women silent and for many the ongoing search for their children today."

50% pf proceeds to be donated to Origins Canada.


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in felt cover


Page last update: 09.19.17


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