Becoming: The Stories We Tell
Port Saint John Gallery – March 12 – April 30, 2021
For the past two decades, my studio practice has concentrated on a body of work titled ‘Busy Woman’, which began as an exploration into self-identity yet evolved over time into a playful social commentary, documenting a contemporary woman’s attempt to come to terms with typical female roles.
My paintings are constructed slowly and deliberately by building layer upon layer of vibrant acrylic colour. This way of working, always adding incrementally, is a very female way of working and identifies closely with other forms of women’s cultural production such as rug hooking and weaving.
This series of work, ‘Becoming’, was originally inspired by my grandmother, and involves both painting and rug-hooking. This body of work is a testament to the powerful force that exists between generations of women and draws from my own life as I navigate the complexity of having daughters ready to leave home, the grief encountered after the passing of my beloved grandmother, and the deep sadness surrounding my mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, and her recent passing.
‘Becoming’ speaks to both personal and cultural experience. French philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir, stated that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” My work aims to explore phases of womanhood, incorporating time-honoured rug hooking techniques with contemporary imagery, offering a modern interpretation through a traditional method of women’s cultural production. The works are displayed in a grid formation to suggest a story quilt, or the telling of a life story.
‘Becoming’ was first shown at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 2018 and Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre in 2019. ‘Becoming: The Stories We Tell’ references the new works that have been added for this third showing.
Rooted in Pop-art, with a feminist twist, the interplay of imagery between the paintings and the hooked rugs, results in a positive affirmation and portrayal of love and resilience.
Alexandrya Eaton is a contemporary Canadian painter whose studio practice has grown to include rug-hooking and weaving, incorporating the same vibrant palette and simplified shapes across all mediums. Alexandrya’s work aims to explore phases of womanhood, combining traditional textile techniques with contemporary imagery.
Eaton has had over forty solo exhibitions of her work and her paintings hang in numerous private and public collections. Alexandrya’s work has been aquired by: the NB Art Bank; RBC Dominion Securities; Aliant Telecom; Nesbitt Burns; NB Power; the UNB Art Centre; Toronto Dominion Bank; Atlantic Lottery Corporation; Centre d’Art de Baie-Saint-Paul; and the Masterworks Foundation, among many other public and corporate collections.
Over the years, Eaton’s paintings have been included in several important group exhibitions, such as: Anecdotes and Enigmas, curated by Hermenegilde Chiasson; and BLISS, curated by Shauna McCabe. BLISS combined the work of four international artists exploring the image and idea of flowers and flowering, and its relationship to the poetic, questioning modern perceptions of beauty.
Alexandrya works in a very physical way, painting quickly and on the floor. Her inclusion of tools such as rollers, tape and handmade stencils facilitates her fascination with the repetition of images. Currently Eaton’s work is focused on a “woman being”, offering a playful perspective on the attempt to come to terms with typical female roles.
Alexandrya is currently working on a retrospective publication looking back at thirty years of her artmaking. The book, ‘Everything in Between’, is being written by the New Brunswick curatorial group, 3E Collective, with funding from the New Brunswick Arts Board.
As always, Alexandrya intends to overwhelm the viewer with life and colour. She lives happily in Sackville,
“Women and flowers thrive in Alexandrya Eaton’s paintings. For over 25 years, this Sackville-based artist has worked with vibrant imagery that brings her both joy and strength while expressing feminine power. Her work addresses cultural and personal experiences of gender identity and gender expression. Becoming references Simone de Beauvoir’s statement that ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.’ Eaton’s work explores the phases of womanhood as shaped by cultural pressures and personal choices through the story of her late grandmother, with whom she was very close. Eaton chose the soft and sturdy traditional medium of rug hooking for the portrayal of her role model, and relished the slow and gentle transformation of memories into images. She creates iconic Pop-art figures that actively move through fear and sorrow with resilient courage and love. Her paintings and rugs are a memorial, yet also provide motivation to embody qualities that lead to fulfillment and strive for transcendence.”
~ Christina Thomson
This exhibition is supported by the New Brunswick Arts Board