welcoming Receptive regenerative Actions
In her own practice, and as part of the collective ee portal, Elyse embraces restorative actions, land poetry, and communal pondering.
She has a BFA from the University of Victoria, and a master's degree in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. As an artist, Elyse meditates on the relationships among sustainability, health and worldview. Materia medica, her master’s thesis, has been published in the Journal of Comparative Media Arts (Simon Fraser University, 2015). As an interdisciplinary and collaborative artist, she has exhibited her art for over a decade.
As part of a Canadian research council grant, she worked on a project called Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage at York University. Her role was to support the accessibility of a drawing archive of 100,000 works (1959-89) from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut. At the same time, she curated an exhibition of contemporary Inuit art at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
In 2005, Elyse trained with Eliot Cowan and Alison Gayek in a healing modality called Plant Spirit Medicine, and has practiced this form of healing since that time. Relational approaches to local ecologies, learned through Plant Spirit Medicine, are also central to Elyse's art practice.
As an interdisciplinary artist and independent curator, Elyse has exhibited work for over a decade, including: daylighting (Reconstructing Resilience Symposium, OCADU, 2016); buried waters (Quest Art Gallery, Midland, 2015); jars-microhabitat (Black Cat ARTSPACE, Toronto, 2015); Journey into Fantasy (McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, 2015); Materia medica (University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, 2014); claybank (Whippersnapper, Toronto, 2014; University of Victoria, 2012); Juglans manos (Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, Sudbury, 2013); urbeing (Xchanges Gallery, Victoria, 2012); Mark Laver: Shining Examples (Legacy Art Gallery, Victoria, 2012); aline (Upstairs Gallery, Victoria, 2012); Greenish (Open Space Arts Society, Victoria, 2011); Species-at-Risk (Ministry of Casual Living, Victoria, 2011); listening arms (Mary & Moses Sculpture Garden, Saanich, 2011); Taché (Audain Gallery, Victoria, 2010); Real Eyes (Canadian Heritage, 2007-09); Elements (Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, Yellowknife, 2008); Lost & Found (Javaroma, Yellowknife, 2006); Flower of Life (Somba K'e Public Art, Yellowknife, 2004); Reclaimed (Old Town Glassworks, Yellowknife 2004).
Awards: Master of Visual Studies Graduating Scholarship (2014), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2013-14), University of Toronto Fellowship (2013), Jamie Cassel's Research Award (2012), Fine Art Festival Bursary (2011), Pat Martin Bates Scholarship (2011), Royal Bank Scholarship for Innovation (2009), The Tenline Sales Material Award (2009), and the NWT Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant (2007).
Throughout her research on environmental issues, she garnered the Dr Lorene Kennedy Environmental Studies Bursary (2011) and Eco-system Bursary (2011). Along with teaching studio art, she has been a teaching assistant for the University of Toronto's School of the Environment.
I am interested in relational specificity or how diverse worldviews cultivate meaning through specific approaches to places, materials, and people. Considering the overlap of worldview and sustainability, I am motivated by gestures that encourage balance. For me, balance occurs by reclaiming relational ecological knowledge through field studies, and sharing these ecological studies through art as a form of exchange and storytelling. Oftentimes, I incorporate the aesthetics of dreaming, healing and herbalism within installations, including generating openings for sensual spatial introspection, featuring sustainably harvested plant matter, and engaging the public in participatory workshops.
ee portal collective (Elyse and Emilio Portal) has been creating interdisciplinary works since 2011. notable works include advanced life support unit (upstairs gallery, university of victoria, 2011), who is this land am i (university of toronto, 2013), microhabitats/self-deception (supernova art festival, 2015), (re)member of water (la galerie du nouvel-ontario, 2015), handmade fire (g. amani's garden skool, 2016), and three ways of working with plants (dualities multi- arts incubator, wkp kennedy gallery, 2017).
at the root of our practice, we acknowledge the primordial essence of land and place. the epic, unspoken and tragic stories of nature have become our main source material.
we are deeply interested in the idea that land is sentient, that it has emotions, and that the land itself is an artist. in our view, the land's emotions are intrinsic to our own emotions.
the land is the artist and we are the work.
an important on-going discussion for us is the schism between natural manifestations versus human alterations. human modification to the environment, on a large-scale, is never done by one individual.
the larger destruction is agreed upon, albeit passively, by society as a whole.
we challenge this passivity and unspoken agreement through our commitment to deeply questioning and re-investigating our age-old relationship, or lack thereof, with nature.
elyseportal at gmail.com