Giselle Amantea

About the Artist

Gisele Amantea was born in Calgary, Alberta. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Calgary in 1975 and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, in 1979.

Amantea lives and works in Montreal, Quebec, where she has been a faculty member in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University since 1995. She teaches  interdisciplinaryCombining a number of areas of study--disciplines--in one practice, for example, visual art, music, and theatre.  approaches to art-making at the undergraduate level.

Initially, Amantea worked in ceramics. She then began creating large  installationAn art work specially designed to fit in or to make use of a specific type of space. It usually consists of more than one element and relates to the space in which it is displayed.  works best described as mixed-media tableaux, combining  ceramicPottery or hollow clay sculpture fired at high temperatures in a kiln or oven to make them harder and stronger. Types include earthenware, porcelain, stoneware, and terra cotta. (  objects with tables, shelves, flocked wallpaper,  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (  objects and fanciful architectural elements. In her 1988 essay, Jamelie Hassan described Amantea’s studio as being like an archaeologist’s lab, “.. piled with boxes upon boxes of fragments of history awaiting the laborious, time-consuming processes of repeated activities: cleaning, sorting, identifying.” (Hassan, 1988)

The materials that Amantea chooses come from everyday life, often referring to the  domesticRemaining much at home; devoted to home duties or pleasures; as, a domestic man or woman.  Living in or near human habitations; domesticated; tame as distinguished from wild; as, domestic animals.  Made in one's own house, nation, or country; as, domestic manufactures, wines, etc.  One who lives in the family of an other, as hired household assistant; a house servant. Articles of home manufacture, especially cotton goods.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  arena, which is the site of family life. Her  feministFeminism essentially comprises a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and philosophies concerned with gender inequalities, and equal rights for people of all genders. Especially since the late 1960s, when the feminist art movement can be said to have emerged, women have been particularly interested in what makes them different from males — what makes women artists and their art different from male artists and their art. This has been most prominent in the United States, Britain, and Germany, although there are numerous precursors to the movement, and it has spread to many other cultures since the 1970s. Feminists point out that throughout most of recorded history males have imposed patriarchal (father-centered) social systems (in which they have dominated females). Although it is not the goal of this article to recount the development of feminist theory in full, the history of feminist art cannot be understood apart from it. Feminist theory must take into account the circumstances of most women's lives as mothers, household workers, and caregivers, in addition to the pervasive misconception that women are genetically inferior to men. Feminist art notes that significant in the dominant (meaning especially Western) culture's patriarchal heritage is the preponderance of art made by males, and for male audiences, sometimes transgressing against females. Men have maintained a studio system which has excluded women from training as artists, a gallery system that has kept them from exhibiting and selling their work, as well as from being collected by museums — albeit somewhat less in recent years than before. (  art practice is concerned with memory and with exploring and questioning the social and cultural norms that have defined femininity.

One example of her interest in personal histories of women is her  installationAn art work specially designed to fit in or to make use of a specific type of space. It usually consists of more than one element and relates to the space in which it is displayed.  A Daily Record. For this work Amantea scanned, digitized and printed pages from a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of notebooks written by a woman who had lived in an industrial city in southern Ontario. Her children only discovered the notebooks after the woman’s death.

“The beauty of the hand-written page,” Amantea wrote in her  artist statementA commentary by an artist on an artwork, and exhibition, belief system, or any other topic.  for the show, “including the crossing out of duties and events, is moving and strongly connotes labour conducive to a woman of her age, social class and cultural circumstances in Canada.” (Amantea, 2006)

A Daily Record featured hundreds of printed pages from the notebooks and a short video. Amantea’s interest in making the work, she said, was “... to create an immersive and highly detailed sense of  spaceSpace can be the area around, within or between images or elements. Space can be created on a two-dimensional surface by using such techniques as overlapping, object size, placement, colour intensity and value, detail and diagonal lines.  referencing containment and intimacy so evocative of the experience of the notebooks and to make a private, seemingly insignificant life known in the public realm and insert it into a history of art.” (Amantea, 2006)

In another exhibition, Reading History Backwards, Amantea used  archivalAn image meant to have lasting utility. An archival digital image is generally an image kept off-line in a safe place, and it's often of higher quality than the digital image delivered to the user. ( You can see examples of archival images at Library and Archives Canada:  photographs and newspaper reports to investigate the story of Filumena “Florence” Lasandro, an Italian immigrant to Western Canada, accused of murder in 1922, and one of the last women hanged in Canada.
Amantea’s work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions across Canada and abroad. Her works are included in several public collections, including the Dunlop Art Gallery and the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning