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Amy Gottlieb

May 12, 2011

Amy Gottlieb is a Toronto-based artist and educator. Born and raised in New York City, she moved to Canada in 1972. Her work explores family histories, the intersection of personal and historical memory and the relationship between cognitive and body memories. Her 1997 award-winning video In Living Memory screened at over twenty-five festivals across North America and on television. Tempest in a Teapot, a 1987 video about Amy's mother and her radical political activities screened at five festivals around Toronto and was exhibited as an installation at A Space. Gottlieb’s 2010 photo-based work FBI Family speaks to the social and political textures of state surveillance, both historic and contemporary. These densely layered photomontages, combining her mother’s FBI surveillance files with archival family photos, are presented at the Toronto Free Gallery as part of Mayworks until May 29. The artist can be reached at:

1. Teaching

I have been teaching high school for twelve years and I still totally love it. The “it” I love is the act of teaching and the relationships that are built with students. My two favourite books about teaching are To Teach: the journey, in comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner and Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters for Those Who Dare to Teach by Paulo Freire. Both books challenge all who teach to reflect critically on the meaning of the act of teaching as well as the meaning of learning in a school system that reproduces unequal power relationships. Teacher is learner and learner is teacher.

2. Political activism

I have been an activist for social and economic justice since forever. My parents, along with the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s, taught me about making social change. I have been active since then, trying to do my part to heal the world. During the recent federal election I was excited to see vote mobs and people getting involved in the important political discussions about where we are going as a country. I regularly visited websites such as Project Democracy, LeadNow, and Shit Harper Did. I am hopeful this resistance will continue in response to the Harper Majority. Who knows, maybe we could even have our own version of the Arab Spring in Canada?

3. Phoebe Snow

Just as I couldn’t live without garlic, I can’t survive without music. It is the rhythm that runs through my veins; it soothes me and jazzes me up. I have been listening to two fabulous Putamayo collections: Acoustic Arabia and Turkish Grooves. I have also revisited Phoebe Snow’s first album from 1974 (that I have on a very well-worn LP). I downloaded it after hearing about her recent death and it still sounds amazing.

4. Fearless Creating

Producing images in the studio feels like a different time zone — a combination of meditative and exhilarating, a reverie and a challenge. But how to get there when I’m stuck or overwhelmed? Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel was an invaluable resource during my year off from teaching. It helped get me back to producing art.

5. Moosewood cookbooks

Cooking is a great way to relax on the weekend, but during the week, family meals need to be quick and good for us. I still grab my three Moosewood cookbooks to provide me with inspiration for quick meals. Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home is packed with great recipes that are easily prepared in thirty to forty minutes. Moosewood is a thirty-five-year old, collectively owned vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York.



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