January 5 – February 17, 2024
The Thread That Runs Through Me
The Main Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday January 5th, 7 -10 pm
Cellular memory (sometimes interchanged with ‘body memory’) is the theory that posits how memories can be stored beyond the brain, deep in our psychosomatic networks. Due to the ways in which traumatic events flood the brain’s memory receptors, cell memory refers to the ‘imprints’ trauma makes on the mind-body, and the impacts this has thereafter.
“The Thread That Runs Through Me” is a body of new interactive work by Zana Wensel, an Edmonton-based emerging multidisciplinary artist and art activist. The works explore the interrelationships between trauma and cellular memory. Through the artist’s combined use of text and image, she invites audiences into her own internal landscape, while speaking to threads that universally make up our physiological and spiritual composition. In doing so, the artist confronts and materializes her relationship with cellular memory as a form of catharsis and reveals several psychosomatic effects that arise as a result.
Using fabric and thread as metaphors of the body’s interwoven composition, the artist further communicates the sensory and palpable nature of cell memory, while mending the relationship with her cells in the process. At the same time, her predominant use of textiles and graphite compositions conveys a quality of what trauma can feel like without explicitly speaking to the events in which they derive from. Through her use of various analogue methods, the integration of the body within these processes becomes essential as it simultaneously inhabits and conceives these works as both conduits and forms of self-realisation. Through these means, the artist cultivates a space for herself to both reflect upon and release her embodied memories and offers these works as reflections on the fabric of our human existence.
Zana Wensel is a multidisciplinary artist, queer ecologist, and somatic practitioner, who lives and practices on Treaty 6 Territory in Edmonton, Alberta. Throughout her artistic practice she explores the interrelationships between trauma, healing, and the body, and examines the ways in which our most inner and outer experiences are connected. Informed by various levels of interoception (the sensing of the internal body state), Zana employs hand and body-based practices such as sewing, writing, drawing, and performance as a way of bringing consciousness to the body’s otherwise unconscious experiences. Through these means, the artist explores the body as both a site and conduit for self-realisation., (re-) connection and healing, and weaves these threads into the greater landscapes of neurobiology, ecology, and spirituality. In doing so, she creates interactive and sensory installations, and gives voice to the fabric of our human existence.
Zana Wensel graduated in 2019 from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto with Bachelor’s degree in Design with Distinction. Her work has been featured in several group exhibitions between Toronto and Edmonton. She was one of five artists to be selected for the RBC Emerging Artists Program in 2020. Zana has been a recipient of several project grants, including the grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for her first solo exhibition at the Multicultural Heritage Centre in Stony Plain, Alberta. Most recently, she has been invited as an Artist-In-Residence to the Similkameen Artist Residency in British Columbia.
Zana Wensel acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Top Image: Coming Undone (detail): 2019, hand-sewn text on body suit, threads, spools.
Courtesy of the artist