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Student: Renée Bouchard (W 21) North Bennington, VT, United States

My home is my workplace, and my work is about my home. I intersect my daily life as a single mother with my art making practice. Since my son was a toddler he has been collaborating with my work. My workspace encompasses two separate and distinct spaces both, relating to each other, and engaging issues of mother’s work, adaptation, and place making. I work outdoors in the landscape using sticks to make structures for weaving and from memory inside my studio while bringing in natural materials like hay and seeds that aims to concretely link to the landscape.

With the pandemic came a renewed focus on a public discourse about the relationship and responsibilities of women’s choices and caregiving, making it more relevant than ever. Currently, I am weaving strips of canvas into the backyard stick constructions, calling them inverted baskets. They are an intervention on the traditional sense of baskets as symbols for caregiving. By weaving the sentient power of the natural materials with the collaborative strips of paintings, I am exploring ideas of affinity, nature, and security. Caregiving is primarily done by women throughout history, and is equivalent to trillions of dollars in unwaged global labor. My work builds towards a sense of play in a time of adversity with the aim towards agitating the viewer to effect long term change in the public awareness of women’s rights. I investigate the transitions, and view them as opportunities to change the habit of language.

In the studio, I am constantly searching for universal knowledge and aim towards a gesture of repair, joy and beauty. I dip non-traditional materials like hay, flowers, and seeds in glue to preserve them on a surface. I walk over them to flatten, and ask my son to trace my body over it. I work in spurts on several paintings simultaneously in a journalistic manner, documenting clusters of daily life. Language, media, music, and studio detritus intertwine with memory and the present act of painting.