Pandora's Box

Venu: Gallery Gachet, Vancouver
Date: April 6th – May 5th, 2018
Curator: D. June Conely


The story of Pandora‘s Box comes from Ancient Greek Mythology. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create the first immortal woman on earth. She was given the name Pandora which means ‘all-giving’. The Gods endowed her with many gifts, such as; musical talent, speech, and most importantly a gift of ‘curiosity’ from Zeus. According to the myth Prometheus a mere mortal stole fire from heaven and brought it back to earth.

 Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora with a container filled with many other evils, telling her she must never open it. Up until then, man had lived in a world without worry, but Zeus knew Pandora’s gift of curiosity would mean that would open the container. When she opened it all the miseries and evils flew out to afflict humankind. When she closed the container one thing that lay on the bottom ‘hope’.

The phrase ‘Pandora’s Box’ has been used to describe many political and social changes throughout history and continues to be used to this day.

In my first years of therapy, I had this reoccurring nightmare. That there were two houses, one was my mother’s house, the other was my father’s house. In my dream every time I got closer to the door it would not open. Eventually, in my dream when I opened the door I would wake up terrified, and not remember seeing anything except darkness. After a long time and frustration, my therapist suggested automatic writing. Which is your ‘subconscious mind’ rather than the conscious intention as the writer. She said to start with a word or sentence then just let your subconscious take over, don’t think about what is being written just write until you need to stop.

I began with; In My mother’s House” then just kept writing till I felt I was finished. Then I wrote “In My Father’s House” and just let my hand keep writing till I felt it was finished. I was afraid to look at them so I folded them up and put them in my dream diary. About 15 or so years later I decided to take them out and read them. I was astonished at the memories we had repressed for so long of which I knew now. I was told that your mind knows when you are ready to handle memories, both physically and mentally which is why I locked them away for so long.

The pencil was fading, so I transferred them onto two embroidery clothes the words stitched as written in black embroidery thread. So, each box reveals the nightmares I lived as a child. 

Also, an interactive piece for the viewer. There will be a word written and the viewer to cross out the word they write is an action word. To challenge the viewer to write a word as quickly as possible after viewing the word written channeling the subconscious. The idea being how we can change what has been revealed and lived with by so many of us.

“What Have We Done”

This Pandora’s Box will be the Human reflection on Animal cruelty.

In the box will be papers refuting animal research, as well as animal cruelty including the slaughter of animals for human consumption and their skin for leather and fur clothing. Or a video recording of this.  With a disclaimer that some might find this disturbing etc.

I would turn a plinth upside down, then have the bottom of the Styrofoam box cut out so you see a 5 ft. box full of animal bones. 

I first started collecting and using animal bones in my artwork, when I would find them scattered in the alleyways as they had fallen out of garbage bins. I thought that it was so disrespectful. To kill or have them killed, eat the meat and then just toss the bones in the garbage. So, I started putting them into my artwork to restore some honor that they deserved.

And as I have always stated I have great respect for Indigenous peoples who live off the land, which includes the sacrifice of animals for food and clothing. They say a prayer thanking the animal for its sacrifice before and after. They also use every part of the animal they can for their survival and nothing goes to waste.

Afwa's Statement at the opening of show

I am here to introduce June Conley, Artist and Curator of the show Pandora’s Box. For all the years that I’ve known June, she has impressed me with the courage, focus, and fire that she brings to her art practice. Her ability to unflinchingly explore the underbelly of human nature and mould it into intricate beauty is as enchanting as it in unnerving. June uses the myth of Pandora’s Box to frame the white styrofoam boxes that were used to transport her medicine. She invited ten other artists-me and my collaborator Aerlyn Weissman, aly de la cruz yip, Lara Fitzgerald, Bernadine Fox, Ken Gerberick, Pierre Leichner, Heather Pelles, Leigh Selden, and Diane Wood - into this deeply intimate interaction with these containers and what they represent - an act of trust, and ultimately, of hope.