Installation Shot of the We Are Golden Exhibition
Sandra Grace Storey is a clay-based artist from Tagish. With teaching and exhibition experience nationally and internationally, Storey chooses the Yukon as her home and a place to continue making artwork. Her first solo exhibition at the Yukon Arts Centre, titled We Are Golden, is a moving sculptural installation with themes of history, mythology and archaeology. With only a month left until the exhibition closes, I spoke with Storey about some of her thoughts on the gallery show, life in the Yukon and other Yukon artists.
Anne Margaret Deck: How did you get into this career?
Sandra Grace Storey: I went to Emily Carr University to study design, and by the end of first year I was hooked on clay. I have done bronze casting, silver casting, and paper casting but clay is definitely my ultra-favorite medium.
I have always been in the arts...after I trained at Emily Carr in Vancouver I sailed to New Zealand for my first job at a polytechnic school. I also taught art at a rural school in New Zealand. When I moved back to the Yukon in 2006, I started volunteering at Arts Underground, and worked there until 2011. I didn’t want to do anything but art, and now I am working on my own career, with my partner’s support, as a full time artist making sculpture and commissions and showing my work in galleries in the Yukon and internationally.
AMD: What projects are you working on now?
SGS: I have been doing commissions for the past three years.
AMD: How do the commissions work?
SGS: Generally people see something, something someone has bought, on a Facebook page, or in an exhibition and they say, ‘I really like your owls, could you make me an owl?’ I will ask them ‘Why do you want that? Does it mean something to you? Is it an archetypal thing? Does it come from a dream or an experience?’ Though they are somewhat realistic, they often come from a dream realm, an ancient realm.…[with the commissions] I feel like I have made a meaningful piece for that person…and each piece is different. My artwork is always sculpture….my most functional piece was putting flowers in the mouth of a dancing pig.
AMD: What do you love about this exhibition at the YAC?
SGS: This is my first show exhibiting at the Yukon Arts Centre. I was able to put all on hold for six months, and I was able to create something that I really, really wanted to create that didn’t have a huge commercial content.
AMD: What is unique about We are Golden?
SGS: The size of the show is unique….as far as I know there has never been a clay installation that big in the Yukon…I really wanted people to walk into a myth, a moment, where they and the other characters were all the same size. I wanted people not to feel like the master nor the owner of the work, but instead as a participant who entered the space to observe something or learn.
AMD: What do you love about living in the Yukon?
SGS: My partner and I just moved into a studio home in Tagish that we built ourselves. I grew up out there and I love the lifestyle. It’s simple, rigorous, and I’m a real introvert so I am happy to spend a lot of time by myself.
AMD: What was your involvement with Ted Harrison?
SGS: I went to F.H. Collins from grades 9-12 and he was the arts teacher during that time. A small group of students would go and meet at his house, we would go once a month and have an art group. He was somebody that didn’t have an agenda. He got to know each of his students, where your strengths were and what you liked to do…when you weren’t in a space to produce art work, he would sit beside you and draw and tell stories and all of a sudden something would click and you would say ‘I got it, I know! He would encourage everyone to be an individual creative voice, and he made a big difference in my getting into Emily Carr.
The exhibition We Are Golden by Sandra Grace Storey will be on display at the Yukon Arts Centre until November 29, 2014.