This project was conceived in 2007, while on residence at the Canada Council for the Arts studio in London, UK. I had been traveling outside the country for years, and was often introduced to strangers as the “Canadian artist.” This phrase evoked a blank non-recognition, a glazed absence of conjurable meaning.

I am a third generation citizen of the “New World.” I was born into a family without connection to the past, without stories or memories of a culture of origin. Being an artist is itself a life of self-invented terms. This all-around vagueness conspires to create a condition of total identity freedom (that may define me more than anything else); it also sets one adrift, without anchor or raft. I suspect this liberty may have something to do with the quiet thrum of yearning that colours all of my travels, inward and out. Or is that what religious scholars call a quest for God?

Faced with questions of my dubious pedigree, I began to poke into belonging, blood, and the fate of birth. I prefer irreverence and muddy waters to false notions of purity, absurdity as a closer relation to truth. Canadian Artist presents a preposterous, yet semi-logical, system of ancestry. All relations in this family tree are acknowledged and celebrated. Thieves, slaves, royalty, shamans, gravediggers, colonists, sailors, chieftains and prostitutes—the artist claims all as influence and inspiration.

Shary Boyle, 2012