Mirror (2019) Acrylic on Canvas, two tondo painting 6’ 6” each. Permanently installed at the Carleton North High School Library, Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, Canada.
“Mirror” deals with themes of learning, diversity and community. Its framed circles bring to mind a portal into the infinite knowledge offered by books, the imagination and the internet. The two back-to-back circular paintings compliment the 1970’s architecture and highlight the variety of approaches to learning; both linear and holistic. These straight and curved shapes become a metaphor for the development of knowledge; highlighting that students can examine subjects globally and holistically, especially through the internet. Having the circles face both outward and inward illustrates that while society has infinite access to information from a variety of sources, that inward and mindful learning practices are also of vital importance to the growth of a community. That the mirror has two sides calls the viewer to explore facts and phenomenon from multiple angles; to be inquisitive but, also to be responsible learners in this time of a consciousness shift and varied perceptions on global events and facts.
While the circles reference a traditional mirror shape, it also makes reference to the round compass and moon shapes of the Carleton North High School logo. The visual weight of each painting is a direct reference to the placement of the crescent moon and star within the logo. The cosmic imagery of the paintings also makes reference to the school's mascot of stars; highlighting that all humanity is comprised of stardust (with every element on Earth being formed at the heart of a star); speaking to connection within a community. Write here…
Mirrors and the moon reflect light and, as such, the artwork is a literal reflection of diversity, community and the “stars” of Florenceville-Bristol. As part of the project, community members and students were invited to submit objects for Musgrave’s “watermarking” process whereby, she lays objects onto the canvas and surrounds them with water and pigment to create an imprint of what was once there. Community members were encouraged to submit objects that represented Florenceville-Bristol, aspects of life they wished to release and personal stories from the people who live(d) in it.
While many participants submitted objects to represent the school’s mascot or potatoes to represent the potato industry, many items submitted were personal in nature (a full list is presented at the end of this statement). The sharing and releasing of these personal stories through objects become an opportunity to honour and transmute the energy of the memory and put closure to them. Many objects were offered in memory of those now passed and had significant impact on the community. In such cases, mundane objects, such as a clothes pin, are elevated to alchemic relics representing higher metaphysical principals with the anonymous donor stating, “a clothes pin is two mirrored halves held.” A wrench donated in memory of the mechanic and sign painter, Terry Perkins (1950 - 2016), becomes a wand pulsating creative energy into the painted cloud.
The lace of a wedding dress, donated by Patty Moore Wilson, intricacy holds together the fluid structure of the painting; acting as a metaphor for the thread that holds the fated lovers and her parents, Yvette Mary Moore and Michael Paul Moore (1940 - 2005), together.
Donna Larlee-Langille (Teacher at CNHS since 1992) donated vibraphone keys that belonged to her father, Roderick Larlee (1926-1963), when he played in a jazz band back in the 50s and 60s. These keys are all she had of her father, as he died shortly before she was born. All of Musgrave’s works are visual depictions of music and the inclusion of this element allow for a sound source of the vibration resounding through the painting.
Paint was poured through the eyes and mouth of brass theatre masks offered by Jeannie Matthews in memory of her late husband, Mr. Weldon Matthews (1949-2016), and his passion, as well as, contribution to drama in the community. This act left a subtle and spirit-like imprint of a face on the painting and mirrored the practice of feeding those who have passed away by leaving food at the grave site of a loved one for them to metaphorically consume. This symbolic gesture of feeding the masks paint is akin to offering a creative collaboration.
A timer was donated by teacher, Susan Galbraith, also in memory of Mr. Weldon Matthews for his contributions to drama and Mr. Iain Dunlop (1945-2017) for being a Basketball Coach at the school. Of the timer Galbraith wrote: “both men always had a stopwatch with them. For Mr. Iain Dunlop as a coach he used it as you would expect and for Mr. Weldon Matthews he believed that in the theatre, timing was everything.”
Synchronistically, Iain Dunlop was father to Musgrave's high school music teacher, Tanya Dunlop, adding more meaning to the timer as a metaphor for music. This is very sentimental for Musgrave as all her works express an experience of synesthesia and music expressed in painting. This brings the work full circle to speak of connectedness and the value of teachers to our community. It is undeniable that Musgrave’s music teacher, Tanya, influenced Musgrave’s interest in the subject of music, which extends into all her paintings, including “Mirror,” and that this is also connected to Iain.
Thank you to Andrew and Laura McCain Art Gallery, McCain Foods Limited, Town of Florenceville-Bristol, The New Brunswick Department of Tourism Heritage and Culture, Resonance New Music, Jennifer Stead, Jana Brennan and Susan Galbraith. Thank you to Andrew Reed Miller, who composed “Glass” to unveil the piece.