Hiatus and Project Update

This_sums_up_our_final_weekend_in__NYC_perfectly.__latergram____regram_from__darcyvermeulen.__newyork__manhattan__nohomoIt has been a busy month since my previous project update. A last minute October move of both my apartment and studio and 10 day trip to New York City has really put me behind on everything in life, including my whitewashing project.

I can’t believe it’s already November. Although I’m still living out of boxes I’ve finally settled into my new apartment. My new studio is coming together too, although it’s still a work in progress.

Even though I’m still daydreaming about being back in NYC (you can check out the rest of my photos on Instagram), I’m getting back into the swing of things.

I’ve picked off where I left off. As I mentioned in my last update I’ve moved away from the racist trinkets to basic utilitarian and other familiar objects including a spoon, computer mouse, socks and sunglasses. These objects don’t have the same sort of charge and energy to them.

photo 4Already, there’s something different to the project and work. Some of them have multiple coats applied and for others it’s their first treatment.

photo 3-1

I see the work evolving as I experiment with different treatments and applications: from hanging to partially painted to laying flat with the paint oozing off around it.

photo 2Since the work requires daily treatments I’ve had to move it out of my new studio in North Vancouver to a closet in my apartment.

photo 1Where will this go from here? I’m still unsure at this point. I see the process evolving as the treatments layer on.

Whitewashing Progress

There was something extremely satisfying about the first application of white paint. I’m not sure if it was the very physical nature of the act or the pleasure derived from watching the racist imagery disappear. Regardless, the process is bringing up different feelings and emotions than I first anticipated.

Photo 2014-09-22, 7 49 09 PMThe first object to be whitewashed is a racist representation of Native Americans, full of tired stereotypes, salt shaker. I found it in a rural volunteer-run thrift shop in Castlegar, British Columbia. It came in a set along with an equally offensive pepper shaker.

When I approached the till the older woman behind the counter fumbled and the pepper shaker went tumbling to the floor. It hit the ground and shattered into a million pieces. There was a complete look of horror on her face.

There was something relieving about that instance. The accident was a release. The energies and histories contained in the objects were broken and shattered. There was something about that moment. It was meant to happen.

Photo 2014-09-22, 7 38 20 PMAnd so the act of whitewashing begins. The repeated process of dipping and dipping and dipping and dipping. After only one application something has changed. The symbols, colours and imagery have already begun to disappear.

Photo 2014-09-22, 7 50 23 PM
Edit: Please note that I have shifted this project. Please take a look at the update.

Inside the Studio: Whitewashing


opensourceway.com (creative commons)

I’m currently pursuing a new studio sculpture project that investigates the concept of whitewashing, both in a historical and contemporary context.

I should note that by whitewashing I don’t mean the literal whitewash painting of chairs, I mean the process of minimizing and erasing racialized people (see ‘People of Colour’) both through history and in current mass media culture, politics and society.

This project explores the theoretical concept of whitewashing through the act of dipping objects in suffocating white paint. This action is repeated the point where the objects become completely distorted and illegible from the original form.


Whitewashing a mountain. (Wikimedia Commons)

Culturally appropriated trinkets and souvenirs, objects already whitewashed and homogenized through centuries of colonialism and colonization, are being used as the source objects.

The process investigates our role, whether explicit or passive, as perpetrators of historical and ongoing violence. Does acknowledgement and awareness absolve the perpetrator of their actions? Is intent even relevant? Is permission required?

Through repeated action I’m forced to investigate my own history and current involvement in whitewashing and explore the uncomfortable truths that inanimate objects represent.

Edit: Please note that I have shifted this project. Please take a look at the update.

Great Bear / Clear Cut

Great Bear Rainforest / Clear Cut by Jonny Sopotiuk

Great Bear Rainforest / Clear Cut is a book work completed in 2012. The work looks at the act of clear cut logging in the Great Bear Rainforest in Northern, BC. The book can be read in two directions exploring the impact of clear cutting on the internal imagery.

Historic agreements were signed in 2006 and 2009 that protected a significant portion of the old growth area and banned clear cut logging. Logging is still allowed in around 50% of the area and the Take It Taller Campaign is organizing to protect the entire area. You can sign on to support the campaign here: savethegreatbear.org/takeittaller/support.

Great Bear Rainforest / Clear Cut by Jonny Sopotiuk

Great Bear Rainforest cover image by Ian MacAllister. Clear Cut cover image by Marli Miller.

New Old Photo Work

I’m in the process of finally getting around to uploading my work and to kick it off I thought I’d share some of photos I’ve taken over the years. The first few are a good example of why backing up your computer is an important thing to do. I lost the originals in a laptop crash quite a while ago, but thanks to the magic of Facebook I at least have the low res versions. Check a few of them out below or view the full gallery here.

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This Is Poster Feature


The talented Suzy at Poster, a blog documenting the lives of creatives living in Winnipeg Manitoba, did a December feature on yours truly. I’m still blushing. Check out the post and all of the other amazing work they feature at This Is Poster.

This Sucks

Who the hell is this guy and why does his site suck?

Please email me messages/comments with variations of the above noted statement.

For those of you just stumbling over here I must apologize for the terrible web design I’m using. I love falling leaves as much as the next person, but the background, layout and lack of content was meant to be a temporary thing. Six months later I still haven’t gotten around to updating the content and uploading the new design. Suggestions for motivation techniques are quite welcome.

I promise this is on my summer to-do list. In the meantime, hit me up on Facebook. I promise I don’t suck and it’ll be worth your while. You can also check out my old blog and ramblings on Lavender Rhino. Oh, and if you’re still wondering you can find more info and contact information here.

– Jonny Sopotiuk

Art. Activism. Design.

The new official blog for Jonny Sopotiuk.

Welcome to the new official blog for artist, activist and designer Jonny Sopotiuk. Jonny is a progressive prairie queer activist and artist studying at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. More info and contact information here: http://jonnysopotiuk.ca/contact/.