Over the past nine years, I have undertaken a body of artwork focused on investigating the nature/culture divide. I have been specifically interested in how our concept of nature is culturally constructed. A century ago, nature was seen as unpredictable, dangerous, and chaotic and our shared goal was to tame it, map it, and exploit it for its resources. Increasingly, over the past fifty years, this campaign has been replaced by the need to protect and preserve. Nature is now seen as a pristine retreat, a virgin wilderness in need of our stewardship. In both cases, however, there is a shared perception that we exist outside of nature and act upon it. Nicholas Jardine and Emily Spary write that “If a single vision predominates in modern Western society, it is that of a passive and disempowered nature, slave and victim of human agency.” I wish to pull apart this assumption with the goal of examining how the narratives we construct around our relationship with nature are ideologically laden.
Leila Armstrong has an M.A. in Media Studies from Concordia University. She works both independently and in collaboration with other artists such as Chai Duncan (in 12 Point Buck) and Darcy Logan, Maria Madacky, and Rick Gillis (in M.E.D.I.U.M.). Her most recently solo exhibition was “Coyote”, a body of work addressing the intersection of wildlife with rural, suburban, and urban spaces. Her interest in traditional Natural History methodologies and their intersection with drawing and printmaking has led her to her current focus on relief printmaking and collage.