Who am I?
I am an only child in a large family.
I am a mixed race woman raised in a predominantly white neighborhood.
I am both Canadian and Jamaican.
I am spiritual but not religious.
I am both my mother and father’s child.
I am an artist and an art administrator.
I am a knitter.
I am fascinated by words.
I am gifted to have two names.
I am living in a time where traditions are being lost and new technologies are changing the way we communicate.
I am an artist.
Who am I? I am all these things and more. It feels good to sit and write them out, to list aspects of my identity. Not to categorize but to state what I know. I know who I am. Does that sound silly to state? Are you thinking, “we all know who we are”? Well, I don’t think everyone does. I, for one, struggled to understand who I am, what makes me Me.
For my first post I want to give you a glimpse of what this blog will be and why I’m starting it. I want to shed the mystery of contemporary art, install some windows in its elitist walls and draw you into the conversation. Through providing the how and why of my work, I will give you the context to understand my practice and be more prepared for the next time you encounter that mysterious entity that is contemporary art. For those of you who are already part of the contemporary art discourse I welcome you to share your insights. The more voices the better.
I’m not egocentric, I swear
I believe that art is practice, not in the sense of practice makes perfect but rather that art emerges from ones practice; that an artist’s “art” and life are intrinsically linked, one and the same. Who I am and where I come from go into my work. There is no separating them. To display or talk about my practice is to reveal parts of myself. As a fairly private person this is both terrifying and therapeutic. So yes, there will be a lot about me here, but it is to illuminate my work not my ego.
These posts are my studio walls
There is nothing I miss more from my time at UBC than my studios. They were the hub of creativity as well as social spaces. If I was in the studio, my door was open. Fellow artists would stop by and we’d chat about our work and lives over a cup of tea. Mulling over ideas and commenting on the work of artists we encountered, books we were or wanted to read, the studio was a safe place to share ideas and frustrations. I want to recreate that here in the form of a virtual studio.
Anastasia vs. Stacey
Now that you have an idea of what I’m trying to do here, I would like to get back to the list I opened with, one item in particular. I am gifted to have two names. I really am. This is perhaps the greatest gift my parents gave me in their long and careful deliberation over a name.
Anastasia is my legal birth name, although Ana is more common Stacey is the derivative my parent called me by. If you know me in person you probably know me as Stacey and might wonder why I am not using it here. I don’t think of Anastasia and Stacey as being the same version of me. I see the two names as two personas, in many ways very similar but just different enough to be convenient. The persona that is Stacey is the everyday me, the one who goes to work, buys groceries, that you might run into at Starbucks. Anastasia is the artistic me.
I have always been a bit of a wallflower, observant but quiet and reserved. Not overly comfortable with putting myself out there. When I returned to UBC to finish my BFA I wanted to push myself to be more outgoing, to really connect with my peers. Although this was outside of my comfort zone I knew to get the most out of the experience I needed to immerse myself in the community. So, I took advantage of the fact that I was registered under my legal name and told my self “these people don’t know me, be a different version of myself.”
I must admit that for the last week I have been struggling with whether to bring the name Stacey into this site. I even opened a second twitter account so I could omit the name entirely (the two accounts will have different tweets, @jahdoily will be closely related to my practice, @StaceyEWhite remains more general, please feel free to follow both). For the time being both are on “The Artist” contact page but I will refrain from using the name Stacey here. I have been neglecting the name Anastasia and now is as good a time to rectify that.
Anastasia E White
PS: a little post script on the pronunciation of my name. It is A-na-stah-zee-ah or A-na-sta-see-a, and never A-na-stay-ja. But more on that some other time.