The Amauti as a Symbol of Protection

CocoonCocoon, Pen and Ink, Metallic Acrylic Paint and Laundry Lint, 2017

During my recent involvement with the Northern Women Arts Collaborative, I have become interested in learning about Inuit culture.  The Amauti is the first thing that grabbed my attention.  The design of the Amauti is beautifully symbolic of motherhood at its most basic level of nurturing and protecting.

The Amauti, a traditional parka worn by the Inuit women of the eastern Canadian arctic incorporates a large pouch for babies and an oversized hood to keep mother and child protected from the harsh climate.  This special type of parka creates a cocoon like environment where the mother and child keep one another warm and safe while facilitating bonding.  The garment is designed so the mother can slide the child around front to nurse the child without exposure to the cold.

fuzzy napNapping, Pen and Ink, Laundry Lint, 2016

I have taken the idea of the Amauti and used it as a symbol of love, comfort and protection. Pictured above is a small family sharing the feelings of familial security.

The choice of laundry lint as a medium speaks to the complex and intertwined  consequences that the Industrial Revolution and Technology is having on human’s quality of everyday life.  On one hand the advances in technology makes life easier yet, it is not without a cost.

Laundry lint represents the double edged sword. It is a physical consequence of a technological advances.  Seemingly harmless and even offering a beautiful and inviting aesthetic, there is an unintended consequence that contributes to pollution and climate change and all of its far reaching effects. Lint contains dust, hair, natural fibers and synthetic fibers, organic and non-organic matter that is all captured in our homes and family and delivered back to us in this fuzzy debris.  We do hundreds of loads of laundry a year in order to keep our family clean and comfortable.  Yet with each load we use electricity, natural gas, dump chemicals and synthetic fibers into our water supply and usually never think twice about it.  With a swift scoop and dump, the awareness of the environmental impact is discarded with the ball of lint.

Birth of a NationBirth of a Nation, Pen and Ink, Laundry Lint, Panty Hose, Dental Floss, Nail, 2016

However, it does not just disappear.  The carbon footprint is deep and long-lasting.  We each unconsciously contribute to climate change in a simple action of trying to care for our families.  It is easier not to think about the effects of our actions because it seems like everything we do in contemporary life is unsustainable and if we think about it we become overwhelmed.  But, the effects are all around us and are already changing the way we live and the quality of our lives.

This body of work questions the way we live today.  It looks at women as protectors. It looks at what we have gained and what we have lost and the unintended consequences to the environment, cultures, families, gender roles, and society as a whole.

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