How We Gather

Part I: Shelter

by Emily Rose Michaud

Shelter is one of our most basic needs, made for protection against exposure to the elements, noise, threat of danger, as well as for privacy. Some are temporary and designed to be carried around, whereas others may stand for years. Last September, we saw another use for a temporary shelter. As part of a larger political statement, tents occupied Zucotti Park in the financial district of Manhattan, to shelter protesters, reclaim common space and take action towards a larger social movement. Matters woven into this piece refer to the intersecting and overlapping stories of the Social uprising currently happening throughout Quebec, as well as to the Occupy movement occurring Internationally.

“How We Gather” is a gesture of solidarity to these movements by looking at the ways and reasons we gather in public space. This new work physically occupies an industrial wasteland-now-meadow, preserved from development by the community. It looks at the interconnected nature of social and living systems. It encourages forms of protest that are local, creative, tangible – in places that are dear to us.

The non-profit citizen’s group, Les Amis du Champ des Possibles is still negotiating with the city about the future of this valuable space as a potential biodiversity reserve and wild commons.

“How We Gather” echoes a common voice demanding participatory democracy.

This tapestry – before it was installed as a tent – progressed through two phases of germination, life, death. Over the 50 days of the tapestry’s silent growth and drying, my actions have embodied a responsibility to care for life. The sprouts require daily attention and represent a living movement. This tapestry is composed of over 50,000 seeds. Like people gathering, thousands upon thousands occupy space with their physical presence and rely on one another for warmth, wellness, growth, empowerment. A shelter in the wind and sun, leaves of grass dry, in quiet homage to the power of collectivity.

Living tapestry: Wheat berries, burlap . 15′ x 15′

Installation: Wheat berries, burlap, foraged cedar . 12′ x 7′ x 5′ . May 25-27, 2012 in Le Champ des Possibles, Montréal

Project Photo Archives


Art Gallery, Volume 2 Issue 1