Home - April 2020

Artistic inspiration for me flows from the natural landscape, but in the midst of a global pandemic when were all being encouraged to stay home and flatten the COVID-19 curve, my muse shifted to what was visible from my bedroom window — suburbia.   

While separated by physical distance, we are all still connected by this shared experience. The entire world was asked to just #stayhome 

This project reflects that surreal moment of social distancing and isolation, and the collective effort to help. Represented by 300+ small glass houses of all shapes, sizes and colours, the pieces create a suburban landscape — a bird’s-eye view of social distancing. When viewed as a whole, the separate houses become a visual metaphor for the way we are all connected, even in our individual spaces. 

These small, brightly coloured sculptures represent us in our homes, but also the hope, love and community that has risen through the pandemic. 

I set up a makeshift gallery in my condo and did an Instagram Live ‘opening’ on April 25. Everyone was encouraged to swap sweatpants for best black-tie outfits, pour a cocktail and join me as I officially unveiled the houses. I did an artist talk on the work and answered questions in real time. The video has been posted on my Instagram account (@jewelnotes) on IGTV. 

Houses have been cut from large glass slabs I constructed using glass scrap and old works, giving them new life. This project has given me the freedom to focus on the production of my art, a chance to step away from the seemingly endless drumbeat of crisis media. 

Parts of the houses are shiny as most would associate with the medium, but other parts are ground down and oiled, giving them a matte finish and allowing the pieces to absorb light making them appear to glow – radiating hope. 

Each slab resulted in a colour collection of houses and were named based on what those colours reminded me of in the moment. 

The collections were placed online and collectors could purchase houses based on size/price - I then chose a corresponding house and mailed them to the new owners. 

Opening weekend I also donated 25% of sales to the Calgary Food Bank raising over $800.

Come November, I photographed all remaining houses and opened up sales to those who wanted to add to their collections or those who didn't like the mystery aspect of the first round, could now choose their home.

The House project was retired on December 31, 2020 with any remaining houses staying in my care. 


January 10, 2021 — Michelle Atkinson