All Our Daughters

All Our Daughters is an audio-visual installation by Salt Spring artist Nicola Wheston that documents the rite of adolescence as it manifests itself in the bodies of young girls between 13 and 19 years of age. Forty paintings and an audio component make up this moving exhibition. Text from Nanaimo Art Gallery

Artist’s Statement

I started the ‘All Our Daughters’ project in 1997 completing it in 2000 when my own daughter was in the middle of her teenage years. At the time I wanted to know more about her generation, as very little was clear to me about her peer group. I could however, see the enormous energy of this age group, their alienation from the world of adults, and complete dependence on each other, the difficulty they experience even around the smallest kind of decision making, their choices, options, relationships and struggles, the fears and mistrust they aroused in adults, and in some cases their compulsion to explore the darker side of life.

I chose forty girls from a variety of backgrounds to explore as wide a range of experience possible. I painted each girl from life and the isolating process of painting allowed each girl to talk and share their life stories in an uncensored fashion. They in turn loved the attention and the result of seeing themselves painted life size. I was overwhelmed by their need for an ear, an elder mentor, a safe place in which to talk and share, at the same time I was really moved and impressed by their strength and miraculous ability to cope.

The girls have now all grown up into wonderful young women and I have had the great pleasure of still knowing a great many of them. I have watched them on their journey through life and in many cases raising their own families.