A Tribute to Sigrid Dahle

Many of you may have probably heard of the enormous loss in our community of Sigrid Dahle, a brilliant artist, writer, curator, teacher, mentor and friend. 

During her long, prolific career, she wrote several essays and curated multiple exhibitions at aceart, including after the gleaners; me, me, me, and me; and Play, Precarity, and Survival

As a way to honour her contributions to the community and offer our thanks, we invited Sigrid’s close friend and fellow artist, Jeanne Randolph, to write a short tribute. Jeanne then reached out to Sigrid’s daughter, Emma Kusch Dahle. Thank you Jeanne and Emma for sharing your reminiscences of your dear friend and mother. We’re with you in your time of grief.

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EMMA KUSCH DAHLE Moon Child

My childhood moments with my mom meant more to me than most kids. Then again, I have no clue what other kids think. All I know is that my childhood was special thanks to my beautiful and loving mom. We never travelled far, she didn’t buy me a pony. I didn’t wear designer baby clothes. Why didn’t you buy me baby Ugg boots, mom? But she gave me everything I could have wanted and more— her love. I can’t find the words to describe the love I felt from my mom. 

For me, love was taking me out in the rain and stomping through puddles together. Love was the story books she read over and over, until we both memorized the words. Love was the late night window shopping in Osborne Village, my eyes widened as the jewelry store windows seemed to dance and twinkle. Sometimes we would go to Baked Expectations and share a slice of strawberry pie that I only ate because it looked pretty. Love was the time and effort she put in to braiding my hair EXACTLY how I wanted, even when she was busy and had more important things to do like, I don’t know, organize an art show?? Love was letting me make messes and installations in the living room. Watching from afar as she gave me space to be creative. Love was protecting me from seeing the daily chaos of the world on TV, immediately switching channels at the first sight of traumatic news. Love was the Friday night movie nights we had when dad worked late. Vegetarian hot dogs wrapped in pillsbury crescent rolls were usually on the menu. Love was dragging me to Dim Sum Garden, even when I didn’t want to go. As a kid I resented my Asian heritage and culture and wanted nothing to do with it. Now that I’m older I’m glad I have memories of going to Chinatown and celebrating Chinese New Years each year. Love was the many shopping trips to the Gap Kids, when I was growing out of my clothes alongside the changing seasons. Picking out my outfit to see the Nutcracker ballet at Christmas gave me goosebumps. If the dress had sparkles on it, I was buying it.

I can’t stop thinking of all the times mom would just hold me, stroke my hair, and kiss my forehead. For no apparent reasons other than giving me her love. Our bond is one I wish all mothers and daughters would have. Then again, maybe I don’t because I want ours to be the most special and only ours. 

Now we’re millions of miles apart, but connected by the moon. Each morning and evening I look for the moon, knowing somewhere my mom is too. I look up and smile at her, and sometimes it feels like I can hear her heartbeat along with mine. 

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JEANNE RANDOLPH Tribute to Sigrid Dahle

Sigrid championed many artists, inspired curators and writers; she participated and orchestrated. I am agog at her accomplishments. What I will forever miss is when Sigrid and I would unleash and intermingle imaginations, lounging of an evening at her place martinis in hand and potato chips nearby.  Many sentences began with, “What if…..?”  Inquiries, proclamations, insights – all to be enacted or assembled as art projects; they rolled from her expansive intelligence like cocktail olives from an overturned jar. Bright, fully formed, complementary colours, glistening – salty with just enough sour to prevent a saccharine effect.  Honestly, we weren’t drinkin’ buddies.  We were thinkin’ buddies.

Image: Sigrid Dahle, Dairy Barn Ruminations, 2012.
Photo credit: Larry Glawson

School of Art mourns passing of SOA alumna, colleague, and friend Sigrid Dahle (U of M)
Sigrid Dahle’s Obituary (Winnipeg Free Press)