I began The Comfort House Project in January 2022 and hope to complete in April 2023. It is a modular, print-based work in the shape of a house with many rooms.
So far, I have completed four room/prints based on conversational interviews with 5 people. I refer to them as my protagonists, because although my creativity manifests visually the ideas live in my mind narratively. View the finished prints here.
As you await the remaining 7 images in this series, you can read about why I feel compelled to make this work. Also know that I am visualizing it very specifically in the teen section of public libraries.
Comforting Notion: I hold infinite potential.
When I was a child I was told frequently and with utter confidence that I could accomplish whatever I wanted to. My parents (who were equally pleased with my ambitions to be a lawyer and a visual artist) have had my back since day one.
And that's what we usually talk about, right, when we tell kids they can be anyone, do anything? Jobs.
When I was sixteen I decided that I would become a criminal crown attorney, because I thought defense attorneys were bad guys, and because I was a high achieving student in most classes, and because I thought I owed it to my grades, to my potential, to feminism (!) to do something impressive. Also, I wasn't interested enough in science or technology to become a woman in STEM, about which I definitely felt some guilt!
You know what I actually wanted when I was sixteen? I wanted more time to read. I wanted Romance (I thought I wanted a boyfriend but that wasn't right. I have a few friends who understand the distinction between things that are romantic and things that are Romantic). I wanted to be an integral member of my communities, noted when I was present and missed when I was absent. I wanted to reconfigure my bedroom for the third time that year. I thought I wanted to be unlike other girls but that's bullshit. I wanted to be seen. I wanted every month to feel like the fresh start of September (free of mistakes). I wanted to know what to say to people who made me uncomfortable, and deliver it with confidence.
And so, when I think about sixteen-year-old Brianna going around and around the ~60 feet of shelving in the teen section at our local library, looking for something that she had somehow never noticed before but that would rival her then-favourite novels... I think about what I would like to talk to her about regarding her potential but disregarding her future career.
I would ask her to remember her potential for kindness and remind her that she can defend her position without being mean. I would tell her to hold on to that love of reading because it is essential to her character and happiness. I would ask her what the coolest thing she can imagine doing is and then question why she couldn't do it next week. I would tell her a secret: that by her final year of university, she would stop caring about grades all together. I would tell her that no-one knows what to put on their resume when they're in highschool and ask her to recenter her goals again and again to verify that they are hers and not someone else's. I would ask her to imagine life as an adult without considering career. What will she do on evenings and weekends? Where will she live? How often will she see her family? Her friends? What is the vibe, the theme of her adult life? What does she care enough about to get angry over?
This is part of the inspiration for my in-progress "Comfort House Project"
Over the last year, I have polished my research down into 3 main questions about seeking comfort. You can engage with them directly through this survey.
The St Thomas Public Library (whose teen section I devoured).
The Lillian H Smith Library in Toronto, whose children's collection is impressive in scale and specifics. I first handled Barry Moser's Dracula here, a super awesome fine press book.
In my wildest dreams, these are the libraries that collect this project, eventually.