Belief

Connected to my interest in the complexities of the human soul, this series of works considers the place that beliefs hold in our inner lives. The pieces feature everyday objects from another era – vestiges of religious heritage and popular culture, found in second-hand shops and at auctions that testify to the decline in religious practice in today’s Quebec. They also reflect the enduring imprint of Catholicism on my own beliefs and those of many of us. In my work with these objects, I comment on our contradictions as we vacillate between rejection and attachment in our relationship to the world of religion.

These installations express the stigmata left by the Catholic religion, ideology of another time and value system. They also encourage reflection on this heritage and echo current issues and discussions around the challenges to freedom posed by religion. Although the items I use are associated with the Catholic faith, my approach addresses universal principles of belief and associated conceptualizations of the public and private spheres.

Textile fibres play a central role in this body of works, whether as support, material, or subject. The techniques I use, including embroidery, sewing, and needlepoint, involve an intimate relationship with materials and a labour-intensive process that requires patience and technical mastery, reminiscent of religious ritual and observance. Associated with the feminine, the actual work of stitching opens up opportunities for private reflection and invokes notions of perseverance and hope. My creations also express my respect for the meticulous work of the generations of women who made many of the textile objects that are part of our religious heritage. The metamorphosis of the liturgical garments and articles I use evokes the passage between everyday gestures and sacred ritual acts.

By juxtaposing symbolic objects with untreated materials, a number of these works also engage notions of complementarity and hybridity. The assemblage of the materials gives insight into the dichotomy between the ostentatious dimension of religion and the humble reality of the faithful. Portrait d’une novice (Portrait of a Novice), for instance, underscores the invisibility and self-denial demanded by the religious vocation, while also recalling that the body and sexuality persist, despite the dictates of religious life.

Beyond their symbolic dimension, the works also include historical references. Associated with the Indigenous cosmogony, the feathers in Carquois de pales (Pall Quiver), Parementique métissée (Mixed Parament) and Se lier (Uniting) express the ambiguous relationship between the Catholic religion and the Indigenous peoples. Presented as the only path to salvation at the time of first contact, Catholicism has at times proven cruel to them. The history of colonialism and its forced conversions are thus also visible in these works.

Through formal exploration and conceptual inquiry, Belief explores the range within religious experience, from dogmatic rigour to the promise of comfort. Rooted in a rereading of the recent past, the works crystallize my current understanding of the place of these traditions – both religious and artisanal – in our lives today.