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Life Studies and Printmaking/Publications

“My thesis project "Specufabula” explores Western knowledge systems found in scientific and museological histories. The term "Specufabula" references a neologism posed by Helen Palmer in her article “Speculative Taxonomies”. It refers to speculative fabulation that can be applied to taxonomic systems in order for new worlds and materialisms to be imagined in the context of diverse epistemes and transversality: a framework which is the main pillar in my investigative project. I engage with a speculative approach to system-making through the methodology and content of collection. Through installational and printed materials I reference archival, scientific and museological practices and aesthetics while injecting written poetics and object symbolism into the rigidity of their classification systems in order to investigate how knowledge is codified within them. My formal research process investigates object-oriented ontologies, museological history and its colonial baggage, scientific forms of knowledge production, and decolonial approaches to re-inventing knowledge systems. In order to speak to the entwined frameworks of Western museum and colonial histories, I mobilize their aesthetics. Historic methods of collection and categorization—the curiosity cabinet, taxonomic nomenclature, the card catalogue, the field guide—became aesthetic and conceptual sites. My combined background in sculpture and printmaking enables me to approach historic aesthetics materially as well as conceptually. Inspired by the taxonomic history of scientific illustration, I investigate my own collected natural objects through illustrative print mediums, lithography and intaglio. The central purpose of the "Specufabula" is to engage directly with my collected natural objects and to investigate the systems through which knowledge is codified. Adjacent conversations about colonialism are tied into the work by the use of Western historic aesthetics of collection and display. Art as an imaginative medium allows me to confront the dichotomies enforced by Western scientific ideology. Considering how objects are decontextualized and codified through collection and subsequent display, I use that power to my advantage in order to fabricate my own world within a collection. In my work, contexts are imagined and recreated through methods of accumulation, representation, and categorization. I re-present the colonial Western ways of knowing by re-invigorating them with the injection of other ways of knowing—through poetics, through sustainable collection methodologies, and through an object-as-subject approach. My work therefore references the familiar in order to gesture towards the speculative.

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Elizabeth DeCoste is a Toronto-based artist with a BFA in cross-disciplinary arts from Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU). Their work revolves around the collection of natural materials and the methodologies of its display based in research on museology, scientific illustration, and folk taxonomy. Working primarily in sculpture, printmaking, and collage, their work explores ways of knowing that surround human-nature relationships.DeCoste grew up in Treaty 4 Territory in Regina, Saskatchewan, the traditional territory of the Nêhiyawak, the Anihšināpēk, the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota nations, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. They are currently living and working in Toronto, the territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, and the Missassaugas of the Credit.
OCAD U - Faculty of Art
Cross-Disciplinary Art: Life Studies
Major Completed, 2022
OCAD U - Faculty of Art
Printmaking & Publications
Minor Completed, 2022

Printmaking Publications Sculpture/Installation Writing

2022, Proximities: OCADU Life Studies Thesis Show
Gallery 1313, Toronto, ON.
2021, Every Nooks and Cranny
The Woods Art Space, Regina, SK.
2021, Urban Canvas
Regina, Saskatchewan
2021, Altered Images at Hand
Propeller Art Gallery, Toronto, ON.
2021, Nuit Blanche Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan
2019, 35mm Indisposable
Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, Toronto ON