Revelstoke Reflections: Sifting

'My sieve reminds me to sift through my education, my finances, my responsibilities as woman, mother, partner, friend, citizen, human being, to sift through the uncertainty of employment and economy at this time, to remember who I am, what I value and what I can give back.'

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Revelstoke Reflections:
connecting through creativity

Revelstoke Reflections brought to you in partnership with Revelstoke Arts Council an online forum where Revelstokians can share their creativity and enjoy the creations of others.

To learn more, visit: revelstokemountaineer.com/revelstoke_reflections-submit



Your name/Artist name

Claire Sieber


Artwork title

Sifting


Download the artwork
2020-04-15_5e97830bdd750_Sifting-scaled


What inspired you to create this artwork?

“Remembering ourselves and our power can lead to revolution but it requires more than recalling a few facts. Re-membering involves putting ourselves back together, recovering identity and integrity, reclaiming the wholeness of our lives.”
—Parker J. Palmer

Over the past three weeks I’ve binged on scrolling through Facebook, CBC and Instagram feeds, trying to make sense of the collective human response to this pandemic. These feeds haven’t really fed me. What has really fed me are the moments I have put down my device, listened to my partner play guitar while grounding myself in cooking or baking, gone outside with my son, gotten close to the trees, walked along the river. When I do slip back online, a bit obsessively I admit, I sense this overwhelming message: we needed this pause. It is my privilege that allows me to have this pause. Many people have not had this luxury. My responsibility is to figure out what to do with this time. How we choose to live these uncertain times will define our survival as a species and re-define our relationship with each other and this planet.

This sketch is meant to illustrate my process. The sieve is my family crest. Sieber means sieve-maker in Switzerland. It maps a story of my heritage and identity. I sketched it this way because it has been passed on to me with so many stories, values, and lessons woven into it, and yet, some threads are broken, some are missing, some I have already lost. Beside the sieve are seeds, river rocks, branches — things I have been taught to turn to for guidance. Why? Because all of these things are teachers.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us that, “Plants know how to make food and medicine from light and water, and then give it away.” This generous relationship may seem so simple, and yet, it is fundamental, we have taken it for granted for too long and we have not held up our end of the deal. If we take water from a river to grow the gardens that feed us, we are responsible for caring for the health of that river — of being stewards of the entire watershed that feeds that river that feeds us. Reciprocity.

My sieve reminds me to sift through my education, my finances, my responsibilities as woman, mother, partner, friend, citizen, human being, to sift through the uncertainty of employment and economy at this time, to remember who I am, what I value and what I can give back. To do this, I know there are gaps in my sieve that I need to re-weave. Parker J Palmer and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s words have helped with the weaving.

Seeing the work of Brian Jungen, an artist of Dane-Zaa and Swiss ancestry living and working in the North Okanagan of British Columbia, has also inspired me. Jungen caught my attention with many of his works, especially this one: Sound Space II, 2010, willow, birch, deer and goat hide (see: https://catrionajeffries.com/artists/brian-jungen/works/). I imagined him sewing pieces of his identity into this work. All of my teachers (not just the human ones) remind me that gratitude, reciprocity, humility and stewardship are threads I need to fill in the gaps of my sieve. I know I have let complacency and convenience slip through the holes. I intend to use this time to fix my sieve and repair my relationship with people and places.


Where did you create this artwork?
How is your workspace?

At home I have a beautifully rustic wooden desk that used to be my father’s. Morning sun spills across it, filtered through birch, pine, fir and cedar trees. That is where my son and I make art. Otherwise, I will sketch anywhere, and I doodle especially well during long meetings, lectures and conference calls.



Short bio

I grew up here in Revelstoke, on the unceded territory of the Sinixt, Secwepemc, Sylix and Ktunaxa. My childhood centred around a Douglas fir tree near the confluence of the Illecillewaet and Columbia rivers. Imprinted with my parents’ stories, plants, birdsong, Amazonian healing songs and the rhythm of the Pehuenche drum, my heart, art and journals are full of teachings about relationships with place.