Human Rights Office

Human Rights Office
Human Rights Office

Tile G2

"Everyone in me is a bird"

Jessica Marion Barr


Artist's Biography

Jessica Marion Barr is a Toronto artist, educator, and Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen's University. Her interdisciplinary practice includes installation, found-object assemblage, drawing, painting, collage, and poetry, focuses on forging links between visual art, elegy, ecology, ethics, and sustainability. Jessica teaches courses, gives talks, and leads workshops on ecologically-engaged art. Images of Jessica's artwork and accompanying texts have been published in The Brock Reviewand The Goose, and she will be contributing a chapter to an upcoming anthology entitled Environment and/as Mourning. She has recently exhibited work at World of Threads Outdoor Environmental Installations (Oakville, ON), Wall Space Gallery (Ottawa), FINA Gallery - University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus, Kelowna), Hart House (University of Toronto), and Union Gallery, The Artel, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, and the Ban Righ Centre (all in Kingston, ON).  In October 2013, Jessica will be curating and exhibiting work in Indicator, a independent project for Toronto's Nuit Blanche.


Artist's Statement

This piece was inspired by Anne Sexton's poem "In Celebration of my Uterus" (c. 1969), an affirmation of the strength and power of women:

Everyone in me is a bird.

I am beating all my wings.   

They wanted to cut you out   

but they will not.

They said you were immeasurably empty   

but you are not.

They said you were sick unto dying   

but they were wrong.

You are singing like a school girl.   

You are not torn.

Sweet weight,

in celebration of the woman I am

and of the soul of the woman I am

and of the central creature and its delight   

I sing for you. I dare to live.

Hello, spirit. Hello, cup.

Fasten, cover. Cover that does contain.   

Hello to the soil of the fields.

Welcome, roots.

Each cell has a life.

There is enough here to please a nation.

It is enough that the populace own these goods.   

Any person, any commonwealth would say of it,   

It is good this year that we may plant again   

and think forward to a harvest.

A blight had been forecast and has been cast out.

Many women are singing together of this:   

one is in a shoe factory cursing the machine,   

one is at the aquarium tending a seal,   

one is dull at the wheel of her Ford,   

one is at the toll gate collecting,

one is tying the cord of a calf in Arizona,   

one is straddling a cello in Russia,

one is shifting pots on the stove in Egypt,

one is painting her bedroom walls moon color,   

one is dying but remembering a breakfast,   

one is stretching on her mat in Thailand,   

one is wiping the ass of her child,

one is staring out the window of a train   

in the middle of Wyoming and one is   

anywhere and some are everywhere and all   

seem to be singing, although some can not   

sing a note.

Sweet weight,

in celebration of the woman I am

let me carry a ten-foot scarf,

let me drum for the nineteen-year-olds,

let me carry bowls for the offering

(if that is my part).

Let me study the cardiovascular tissue,

let me examine the angular distance of meteors,   

let me suck on the stems of flowers

(if that is my part).

Let me make certain tribal figures

(if that is my part).

For this thing the body needs

let me sing

for the supper,   

for the kissing,   

for the correct