Among Shades of White

Dimensions: 4' x 8' Modelling Paste and Ink on Canvas


Dimensions: 4′ x 8′

Modelling Paste and Ink on Canvas


This painting is a continuation of Multicoloured. Instead of using an abundance of bright colours to fill the canvas, I have decided to leave the canvas blank and use texture, rather than colour, to add form to the painting. I am using the whiteness of the canvas and the modeling paste to represent blankness, coldness, emptiness and both visual and racial whiteness. And among the whiteness, I have created intricate floral shapes that hint at snow covered trees. Among shades of white, I  have create subtle shifts and changes to show there’s more to the landscape than the eye sees at first glance.

The painting loosely references a picture taken of the Don Valley close to my neighbourhood, Thorncliffe Park Drive, which is full of mostly immigrants. The patterns that I have incorporated into the tree trunks, much like the totem poles in Emily Carr’s paintings (see fig. 1), come from floral henna designs, which are used in Pakistan as well as all over the world to decorate and celebrate. These designs are also used to decorate other ‘craft’ items such as clothes, pottery, jewellery, etc. Slowly, they are even being familiarized in Western culture. So while I find henna to be a part of my personal narrative, it is incorporated universally as a symbol of festivity and celebration, as well as femininity and craft.

By incorporating these designs to make up the landscape, I am infusing Canadian identity, which is so closely related to the Canadian landscape, with patterns of the immigrants who are a major component of Canada’s population and its nationality. By painting these patterns on tree trunks, I want to connect the patterns and the landscape to the idea of cultural roots that one can choose to cultivate or cut off. In doing so, I am hoping to overcome the distinction between art and craft, male and female, as well as open up the possibility of what being a Canadian work of art can mean. You may read more about my inspirations here: Overcoming the Canadian Wilderness.


(Fig 1.) Emily Carr. Totem and Forest, 1931, Vancouver Art Gallery, Toronto, Virtual Museum, Web, 3 May 2015.
(Fig 1.) Emily Carr. Totem and Forest, 1931, Vancouver Art Gallery, Toronto, Virtual Museum, Web, 3 May 2015.
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