Her woodshop is about to close and Pam’s covered in sawdust. It’s technically Concordia’s woodshop, but you’d think she owns it with the way she effortlessly maneuvers the machinery and endlessly teases the technicians there (unlike the other students, who gingerly approach the power tools and address the technicians in a formal and polite manner). Later, at the bar, as she's rummaging through her purse and taking out items one by one to find her wallet, she casually pulls out lipstick and a few sheets of sandpaper, seemingly not noticing that people don't typically carry sandpaper in their purses at bars. But that's the kind of thing that becomes normal when you're a wood sculptor whose life is consumed by art.
I first discovered Pam’s work through Convergence, an initiative that pairs up neuroscientists with artists, who then create artworks using the scientists’ research as inspiration. At the woodshop, I documented her work as she created a series of intricate sculptures, each representing various structures of the fruit fly eye.
This was a departure from her typical work, which typically takes on a larger scale. All of her sculptures are stored in her apartment, which has become the storage space for the woodshop. You’ll find a 6-foot tall Virgin Mary made of birch on her wall, a pine telescope, and my favourite—a massive 8-foot climbing camming device made of 5 different types of wood. Over time, her place transformed into her own cabinet of curiosities.
Even her bookshelf has taken a life of its own. Its constantly moving, being rearranged by colour or topic. Pick up any book and you'll find it filled with scribbles, notes, drawings, exasperated rants against the authors, and little hearts. Needless to say, her books are the kinds of books that used book stores would refuse to purchase. She even uses the empty pages of her books as a non linear diary. On page, you could read her reflections on her upcoming move to New York for grad school. On another, you'll find an entry where she looks back on her decision to pursue art after leaving the air cadets.
I love that Pam can reflect on her own art with both admiration and humility. At the same time, she’s been extremely supportive in my own creative pursuits, helping me rediscover old photographs that I took and forgot, giving me confidence in the work that I do, and reaffirming my decisions for becoming a photographer. For any kind of creator, getting positive reinforcement for your work is always encouraging, but when the feedback is coming from an artist you consider extremely talented and who knows her shit when it comes to art history, YOU DROP EVERYTHING AND PAY CLOSE ATTENTION.
Pam now heads off to New York to start a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Dimensional Studies, which sounds pretty bad ass (and it’s worth mentioning that she received a scholarship that only 5 students get per year). And so she joins my series of Montreal Artists just a few weeks before leaving Montreal (unfortunately for Montreal). Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!