Caretaker, a body of work including photograph portraits, audio work, and a quilt, explores Brenda’s experience of contracting COVID-19. The title Caretaker is both a common term and a question regarding how care is given (or taken). The work explores questions of commercialized care prevalent in our society (heightened during the pandemic).

Exhibited: CAFKA Biennale “Stay With Me,” Schneider Haus National Historic Site

Installation photographs by Phi Doan
Quilt detail installation photo by Meg Ross

Funding support for the Caretaker exhibition at Schneider Haus was generously provided by the Ontario Arts Council and the Government of Ontario.

The Caretaker
40″x60,” cough drop wrappers, multi vitamin packaging, disinfectant wipe packaging, tea bag strings, 3 ply deluxe facial tissues, mask packaging, thread, 2023.

Symptom-easing products come in decorative packaging, reminding them of the late 1800s-early 1900s phenomenon of cigar ribbon quilts. Those historical quilts were created from ribbons or square patches used in the packaging of cigars, making beautiful quilts that tell us much about the time. The quilt utilizes hundreds of cough drop wrappers carefully sewn with other care-product packaging into quilt blocks, a backing made of mask packaging, batting of deluxe 3-ply facial tissue and quilted with tea bag strings.

Caretaker #1-10
20″x30,” photographs printed on plexi, 2023.

The photo series focuses on the relationship between one body part (Brenda’s body) and the quilt at a time, creating intimate photos of sickness and care. It asks questions about how we understand the role of product-based care in our contemporary care practices.

The photo series was a collaborative effort between Brenda (DOP/Model/Editor) and photographer Arturo Jimenez

Caretaker Soundtrack (2023) brings the viewer into the reality of photos, the sounds of the crinkly plastic quilt, coughing, making tea, and the sounds of hand sanitizer. The viewer could scan a QR code to listen to this recording on their smartphone while touring the exhibition.

Audio was recorded + mixed by Brenda with audio support from Aurturo Jimenez at Centre[3].