B.A. Lampman

Artist & writer.

Hello friends,

Today, I am delighted to introduce you to B.A. Lampman. I have had the great pleasure to get to know her, her work, and her process a little in recent months. (Thanks to the auspices of The Creative Good.) I am so grateful she agreed to be featured in this issue of Sifting, shifting, and lifting . . . a weekly column in which I ask clever, curious, compassionate people my three favourite questions.

B.A. Lampman is an artist and writer who paints in ink, collages, and writes an art journal/ newsletter called
Feed the Monster from her backyard studio in Victoria, BC. She has a degree in Fine Art, with Distinction, from Concordia University in Montréal (1989). 

What issue is engaging your head, heart, and hands right now?

I’m not sure I’d call it an issue, but what’s engaging my heart, head and hands at the moment is a graphic memoir I’ve been working on about my late mother’s Lewy Body dementia called Life’s Work.

It started out as something I was moved to make as a response to the 5 years of dealing with her disease, and my difficult relationship with her that informed my caretaking. In posting my work on social media however it quickly became apparent that there was another element to it, which is that a growing number of people have parents or loved ones dealing with dementia. And like me, most have no idea what they’re getting into. So there’s a component of building awareness of the disease, and providing commiseration for those dealing with it.

Lewy Body dementia is on the Parkinson’s spectrum and differs from Alzheimer’s disease mainly in its pronounced and lurid hallucinations, which certainly present as a shock for those first encountering them. Lewy Body is also the second-most prevalent form of dementia, yet most people have never heard of it. It’s a particularly cruel form of the disease.

I’ve been engaged with this for about a year and a half now, and as a friend noted the other night, I could easily be doing this for the rest of my life! I do hope to wrap it up in a more timely fashion than that though.

What artist or work of art has had a profound impact on the way you see the world and your place in it?

I would have to say Marina Abramovic’s performance piece The Artist is Present, though I don’t think I was aware of it while it was happening at MoMA in NY in 2010.

Abramovic sat in a chair six days a week for three months, and people lined up around the block—sometimes overnight—for the chance to sit across from her and look into her eyes for the duration of their choice.

For me it all began several years later, when a co-worker showed me a book of photo portraits of the thousands of participants, taken by Marco Anelli: Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramovic. I was struck dumb by this book, though I couldn’t have said why at the time, and ran out to buy it for myself. 

In 2015 I decided to participate in The 100 Days Project—where participants make or do something each day for 3 months and post it to social media—by painting faces from Anelli’s book. I had recently left my day job, and with my daughter grown and no longer at home, I now had the opportunity to devote myself to artwork for the first time since leaving art school thirty years earlier.

I thought participating in the 100 Day Project might help catapult me past my fears and hesitations about returning to painting, and I wasn’t wrong. I learned that I loved ink, which I had just recently started experimenting with. I learned that I had a facility for painting portraits, and found myself painting in a style completely new to me. I learned that I could maintain a sustained practice (if only by force), and that consistent practice most certainly results in improvement of skills.

I had good days and bad days of course, but had to post what I’d done to social media regardless. I was surprised to discover that friends and strangers alike were following along and said they looked forward to each post. All in all it was a life-changing experience, and one that finally cemented for me that I’m an artist, goddammit.

There are so many good organizations working to transform our world through compassionate action. Who would you like to lift up? 

My first thought was The Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society, and I am sure I don’t need to explain why. I don’t feel properly equipped to hold forth on how or why human beings are capable of committing atrocities . . . I just know it’s very painful to me that they do, and that this fact never seems to change. Please give generously.

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Thank you my friends.

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