Alone / Together
Sydney Rose @ Artist on Elgin
July 30-August 31, 2018
Opening Reception: August 11, 1-4pm
Alone/Together is a collection of mixed media works that explore ideas of isolation and intimacy as mechanisms for the human experience. From the solitude that comes with being a new mom to the one-sided sharing of one’s personal life through social media. The fear of missing out. Settling. The desire for a deeper connection with another while being unable to overcome the boundaries of the self. A longing to disconnect and break free of social constructs in search of independence and individual purpose. Our shared point of origin and the space we inhabit within the universe. We are together and we are also alone.
Sydney was born and raised in Sudbury, with much of her childhood spent in the company of grandparents who were very hands-on: creatives who baked cakes from scratch, sewed outfits for any occasion, built furniture while the other embellished the wooden finishes with hand-stamped designs and crackled paint. From rock hunting to weed pulling, handmade holiday ornaments to pressed flowers, their lives were rooted in tactility.
Since moving into the home that her grandparents had shared, Sydney has been sorting through the leftovers of their lives. Heirlooms aside, the crumbs that remain have slowly been transformed into works of art. Encyclopedia and magazine pages, fabric swatches, spools of thread, sequins and beads, cassette tape cases and scrap wood pieces have come together to create works of art that tempt interaction and long for your touch.
The mixed media works included in her Alone/Together exhibition come from a place of longing: for tactility and human connection in a world of ephemeral experiences mediated by technology. While social media can connect us with individuals and communities on a much larger scale and in a much more consistent, integrated way, there is a level of intimacy that is missed when you aren’t communicating in person. Whether intentional or out of our control, we are isolating ourselves in the process of digitizing our relationships. At the same time, even when we are communicating in person, no matter how intimately you know another, there is still this barrier of self that separates us. We are bound by individual consciousness and that alone can be isolating.
By combining craft-based techniques with pre-existing images, every day objects and thematic references to our digitally facilitated lives, Sydney’s works aim to evoke feelings of nostalgia and alienation simultaneously; to exist as curious oddities that mirror back to the viewer as something familiar. Hand-stitching, stencilling and collage draw upon the skills of her grandparents while embodying the spirit of the maker movement: a return to slower processes and the diy nature of our predecessors in response to a culture that is consistently persuading us to move faster and be more efficient; to live digitally facilitated – always together and also alone.
“Have you ever felt so lonely that all you want to be is alone? When you are surrounded by people that you can only know so well before the parts you don’t know become so loud that they are all that you hear? What does it mean to be alone? We are all alone, aren’t we? We are born that way. All of us birthed from a single point – a single cell – a lonely speck that exploded into all the separate parts that mingle and bounce around each other without being able to be put back together. We make love to piece it together. Entangle our bodies to find the way out. Streams of thought that can’t be put into words, bouncing around our brains, distracting and evading and brewing a longing that goes unfulfilled. Are we really alone if we experience this together? We are in this together. Aren’t we? Shouldn’t we know that this is how it goes? Our understanding of another person’s experience is only shaped by everything we know. How could you ever be expected to understand what she went through when you were never really there? You were never in it. You were never her. You were always you and I will always be me. You tell me to put myself into someone else’s shoes but what you’re really asking is to put myself in someone else’s soul. We have tunnel vision and two tiny windows in our fleshy homes. We give names to our blind spots and define and separate and compare and contrast to make any sense we can of what this thing is that we call living. What we call longing. We separate ourselves while trying to exist together – find ways to stay connected while carving out spaces for us to be alone. We feed our grey areas to the shadows and bask in the light while we unravel the thinest threads for others to climb; cautiously, lest they break or get tied in knots along the way. We spill our guts and lose each other in the crumbs. When did that cookie crumble? How long have you been following that path? When did we get off track? Do you like spending time with yourself? Are you comfortable being alone? Sometimes we can be our own best company – when we get to know who we are and what it can mean to be alone. Let’s get together so we can be alone.”