Patti Smith and the art of work

Last night, I saw Patti Smith speak about her new book, M Train. The memoir delves more into her life, memories and the people she admires, and it shed more light into the person that she is.

I’ve been a fan of hers for a few years. Horses has been a part of my music collection for a long time but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually saw her perform live. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have seen her perform at a few venues in the city, and have added her book, The Coral Sea, to my collection.

When her book Just Kids came out, I devoured every word and fell in love with the world she lived in. I have since reread it without rose-tinted glasses, and now I admire her writing style and appreciate the hard work and time she put into her craft as an artist early in her career.


Thanking her for her work and words.

She participated in a Q&A panel and inevitably, a young artist asked her for advice on how to survive as an artist today. Her words to young artists resonate with me a lot.

She has a strong work ethic, and despite the fact that artists of our generation have more options than what her generation had, we need to keep working and make good work that resonate with what we want to say. It’s less about “making it” and more about doing something that speaks to us.

I want to make work that I like and the reward is that others might feel the same way. Life is hard. Being an artist is hard. But if what you have to say rings loud and true, then it’s all worth it. But Smith puts it better and more eloquently than me:

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned about doing good work. Protect your work and if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency. Life is like a roller coaster ride, it is never going to be perfect. It is going to have perfect moments and rough spots, but it’s all worth it.”

The Post KMAF Experience


I’m over a week late but I had to tell you all about my experience at KMAF!

Overall, it was a good day and a good experience. It was my first ever attempt to do a solo outdoor art show and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was a gorgeous day! My set up was very simple and modest (see above). I only had a few pieces to show which occupied one wall. The rest of my 10″ x 10″ space was filled with a table and chair. But that’s OK. I was happy to have received attention for my artwork more than the lack of artwork. And attention I did get!

While I would have liked to have had more art pieces to fill up another wall, I was happy with what I had. This show taught me that the kind of work that I do takes a lot of time. When I signed up to do the show, I had assumed it would take time but I didn’t realize how much time. I also learned to always have a Plan B–my installation idea didn’t work but thank goodness for fishing wire to do the trick!

I was also grateful for friends who popped by to visit and give me words of support. That meant a lot.

The experience was a good one that it gives me encouragement that the next one, which is happening on Sunday, October 26, will be good, too. I think I want to try to do these shows more often so I have to figure out a way to coordinate school work and personal projects. I can tell you that when school started, I was stressing about this show. However, I think a lot of stress came from not knowing what the experience was going to be like. Now that I have some idea, I think I can manage both. In preparation for the next show, I’ve ordered new business cards and I’m busy working on getting my new website launched. Mid-terms are coming up but honestly, I think I can manage!

Countdown to KMAF

Summer, why do you leave us so soon?

I look forward to these things in the summer: warm weather, beach trips, road trips, outdoor fairs and concerts. I was only able to do one road trip, but I was able to spend lots of time on my bike, going to the beach, and I checked out a few outdoor concerts. My summer wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and riding the Polar Express–the only ride I can go on without getting sick. However, I am proud that I was able to go on another ride called ‘Crazy Mouse’ and enjoy it.

This past weekend, I attended Riot Fest in Downsview Park. My friend had passes for the two-day event and I was able to check out the Sunday performances, which were all great. Performances we saw included The New Pornographers, Stars, Metric, The National, and Die Antwoord. I danced and danced… It was so good!

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Checking out the air show at Hanlan’s Point.

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My classes are in full swing and I have assignments due in the next few days. What’s also coming on the horizon is the Kensington Market Art Fair (KMAF). I’m excited and concerned about it. I’ve never done a solo show before, especially at an art fair. I have a basic idea as to how I want my booth to be set up but honestly, I haven’t delved deeper into it. I’m more worried about getting enough pieces done for the fair and getting all of the small details accomplished.

I feel that I should panic to get everyone everything done, but I’m not in a panicky state of mind. I don’t have the 20 pieces I had originally planned for; I have only half. But it’s what I have. I wish I could stitch faster but unfortunately I can’t. I try to stitch in between my assignments or at work when it’s quiet. I’ve accepted the fact that there isn’t much I can do now except present what I have.

I also realized that I had signed up for way too much. Originally my plan was to do KMAF in September and October, and then a solo show at Superjet International in the fall but I had to back out of the latter. The curator, who is also my friend, was thankfully understanding, which is a great relief. She understood that I have way too much on my plate, even though I had the best of intentions to get everything done on time. While I had a few months to stitch when I agreed to do these shows, I worked every day on my ideas and a lot of the time was spent trying to figure out what to do. I sourced ideas, sketched, and tried techniques that eventually didn’t work, which lead to ones that did. It wasn’t until later in the summer that I had the opportunity to actually stitch. It made me realize that I can’t book two or three shows at the same time. One at a time is plenty.

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Like my makeshift drying rack? My willow branches now have a use instead of just being decorative!

There’s tons more to do for the show but I don’t want to panic because there’s no need for it. If I only have nine pieces to show and sell, then that’s what I have. I will continue to stitch up until the show date. In the meantime, I have to re-learn how to balance work, school and personal stuff again. With a year under my belt, I know what I need to do and not waste time doing it.

Eight-bit love

© Stephanie Cloutier

Last weekend, I attended the most beautiful ceremony for two great people I know in my life, Carmen and Nick. Their wedding was held at the Royal Conservatory of Music, which is a beautiful space near the University of Toronto district. The wedding was intimate and it brought together family and friends, as well as people I adore and rarely spend time with.

For their wedding present, I was inspired by a picture they posted on Facebook a few years and decided to recreate it in embroidery. It’s a thoughtful gift and was a project that I enjoyed doing. Also, the bride and groom really like it.

School’s out. Again!

I’m back!

I never really left but I had a good excuse for being quiet.

I wrote my exam for my art history class this morning and now, I can officially say that my vacation starts now! Summer school is done! I have two months of glorious, warm and sunny weather to enjoy and I can’t wait to sink it all in. That means quality time spent outdoors, and hopefully outside of the city, too.

This past weekend I spent some quality time on the island, a magical place that’s minutes from downtown and a place I love. I spent time with friends and saw a beautiful sunset. I need more of that in my future.


But September isn’t far from my mind. The due date for picking my classes is fast approaching and I’m trying to figure out which class I think I might enjoy. It’s both exciting and frustrating. There’s a lot of them I want to take but I can’t manage the workload of more than four courses a term. In second year, I have access to many fabrication studios like metal or bronze, but I’m unsure as to what I want to create or what materials to use. I know that I’m attracted to paper and textiles, which is a start.

I also hope to tackle my personal work. With no assignments or essays looming in my horizon, I can finally dedicate some valuable time to work on my own stuff. In my last post, I mentioned that I was prepping for some art shows but I didn’t reveal what those shows were. Well, the first one is the Kensington Market Arts Fair. It coincides with the monthly Pedestrian Sunday events, and the May inaugural event brought in a lot of visitors. I’ll be showing my embroidery work (and hopefully selling them) in September and October. The second show I’ll be doing is at a café in Toronto where the artwork that decorate the walls is curated by my lovely friend, Julia.

So, I have a lot of work ahead of me for the next two months and I’m excited about that. I have ideas I want to try, techniques I want to experiment with, and now I have precious and valuable time to do so. There’s no time to waste, let’s get stitching!

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And, we’re back on track!

OK! I’ve got an idea!

I’m still very inspired by the Blonde Redhead-Miranda July collaboration I posted the other day. I want to do something similar except, unlike in the video, I don’t want the space won’t be so sparse like a plain backdrop, nor do I want the edits to be close together. My friend Katie, who is a visual and performance artist, will be coming over to my place tomorrow and we’ll see what kind of magic happens.

For the video, I want to explore the theme of loneliness. I don’t want to specifically focus on being lonely because of the lack of love in one’s life but rather, feeling lonely when we shouldn’t feel that way at all. We live in an age where we have a lot of friends, are connected in every possible way and we collect material objects around us. All of us, no matter if we’re single or in relationship, feel like we’re alone. It’s a pretty heavy topic, so I’m going to try to explore that in the video in the way that can be understood well.

Part of my inspiration for the video is also thanks to my acquisition of new music courtesy of AroarA, a Montreal-based band. I saw them play on Friday at the Dakota Tavern and after a long wait, I bought their newly-released LP. The album is based on Alice Notley’s poetry book, In The Pines, and I think the band did a superb job translating the poems into music. I’ve decided that one of the tracks is going to be the soundtrack of this video.

Let’s hope tomorrow works out well!