Allyson Mitchell is a maximalist artist working predominantly in sculpture, installation, and film. Since 1997, Mitchell has been melding feminism and pop culture to play with contemporary ideas about sexuality, autobiography, and the body, largely through the use of reclaimed textile and abandoned craft.
Her work has exhibited in galleries and festivals across Canada, the US, Europe and East Asia, including the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the Andy Warhol Museum, and Walker Art Center. In 2009, Mitchell’s show Lady Sasquatch will tour galleries across Canada. Deep Lez Film Craft, a program of her films with fellow filmmaker Christina Zeidler, is also currently making its way across North America. Mitchell’s work is held in private and public collections, including McMaster University, Queen’s University, and the National Library and Archives of Canada. She has also performed internationally, most notably with the fat performance troupe Pretty Porky and Pissed Off, as well as publishing both writing and music.
Mitchell holds a PhD from York University, where she is Assistant Professor in the School of Women’s Studies.
Feminist Artist Statement
Deep Lez is an experiment, a process, an aesthetic, and a blend of theory and practice. Deep Lez is right this minute, and it’s rooted in herstories and theories that came before. It takes the most relevant and capable ideas of our time and uses them toward new ways of thinking while clinging to radical politics that have already happened but definitely aren’t over yet. Part of the deep of Deep Lez is about commitment, staying power, and significance. Part of the deep of Deep Lez is about philosophies and theories, as in “wow man, that’s deep.”
Deep Lez uses cafeteria-style mixings of craft, context, direct action, and human connection to maintain radical dyke politics and resistant strategies. Part quilting bee, part public relations campaign, and part Molotov cocktail, Deep Lez seeks to map out the connections between the second-position feminisms that have sustained radical lesbian politics and the third-wave feminisms that have aptly zeroed in on the flaws of that radicalism. Deep Lez wants it all and wants it for everyone—inclusive feminisms with the best of radical lesbian theory and practice. This isn’t about nostalgia and it’s not about obstinance. It’s about culling what’s useful from our herstories and charging forward with it full throttle. It’s about resurrecting ‘lesbian’ as a site of proud, politicized identification, rather than one of apathy, or worse yet, shame.
Deep Lez is a point of departure for me and you to start thinking about our politics and what’s important to us and our communities. Deep Lez is a macrame-d conceptual tangle for us to work through: how we’re going to integrate art into our politics and politics into our art, and how we’re going to imagine the world and our place in it. Deep Lez is to be passed hand-to-hand from crafter to filmmaker to student to teacher to leader and back again. We can band together through Deep Lez to realize our way out of this dysfunctional habitat and to create new ecologies, new policies, and new styles.
Deep Lez is a new kind of sisterhood that isn’t based on gender and privilege and a new kind of brotherhood that isn’t based on rape and pillage. Deep Lez is the volunteer, the workshop coordinator, the curator, the consumer, the instigator, and the first-initiated—anyone who is intrigued by this bell-bottomed fat-assed catch all, whether they’re dykes or not, they’re still Deep Lez.