May 10 – June 24th 2012
The Wardens is a nondenominational organization started in the late nineteenth century by Anna Ward Brouse. Her early history is vague but it is believed that she was born in Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener) in 1855. Anna travelled to Pennsylvania as a youth and at the age of twenty-three she was struck by visions depicting a society of outcasts in sixteenth century Germany. Moved by the beauty, strength and wisdom of these long dead people, Anna revealed their practices and beliefs to a growing society of her own.
Heather Goodchild fabricated this fiction to explore religion, morality and collective storytelling in her work. By creating the imagined artifacts, systems and values of the Wardens, she strives to decode her own desires for ritual, and a code of conduct.
At Hamilton Artists Inc., Goodchild invites the viewer into the world of the Wardens through a maze of canvas arches and rooms. Reminiscent of a travelling spiritual show, the rooms contain objects, text, mysterious games and textile hangings that lead the viewer to question childhood preconceptions and ideas of self-improvement. Through toys, puppets and game boards, Goodchild is commenting on a reluctance in our culture to “take up the mantle” of adulthood while at the same time reveling in the magic of youth, believing that to bear the responsibility of maturity you must remain open to the beauty and wonder of life.
Along with Naomi Yasui, Goodchild is expanding the Wardens story with the online magazine The Wardens Today. This forum allows her to further explore the values of the organization including: good craftsmanship, respect for wisdom, fearless innovation, reverence for beauty, balanced living and achieving potential as seen through the lens of the 21st century.
Heather Goodchild is a visual artist who has exhibited across North America since 2002. Her most recent solo exhibition Walking the Pattern was presented at Mulherin Pollard Projects (New York, NY) in 2011. Goodchild will be the artist in residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in summer 2012. Her practice involves exploring the rituals, regalia and symbols of world religions, Girl Guides and Freemasonry in an attempt to understand the purpose of these traditions. Using textile techniques such as rug-hooking, inlaid patchwork, screen printing and quilting, she has developed new ways to execute old crafts, creating pieces that seem to exist both in the past and present.