Your paintings from 2021 are quite different from the ones from 2022. Could you talk a bit how you got to make your most recent paintings and how, if so, they are influenced by the paintings from 2021?
2021 now seems like a long time ago (laughs)! Those tapestry paintings you’re referring to, those big 4 x 7 feet paintings…I mean, Medieval art, Medieval History has always been a huge interest of mine. I’ve probably taken almost every single Medieval art history course that’s offered at this university. I just think it’s interesting, I’m interested in medieval illuminated manuscript research, and so that influenced that body of work. That was one year ago, and it was that interest in Medieval art, in ornamentation from those time periods, that I now use in my abstractions. I always knew that I wanted to break into abstract painting, I just wasn’t sure how. The background of Medieval knowledge made me a bit more confident to try, and I was able to make some sort of object-painting hybrid that would also combine that interest. It gave me a sort of conceptual backbone so I at least had some idea of what to do.
You do a lot of jobs in the field of arts, besides painting, like organizing exhibitions, engaging in student networks and more. Do you enjoy these activities and if so, what do you enjoy about it?
I do, I do really enjoy it. I only started to consider art as an actual career in March 2022. You know, you’re coming to the end of your degree, you’re thinking about what you’re going to do, and I had the mindset that I would be going into sciences/lab work, or labour. But then there was a moment where I thought: wait a minute, I don’t want this to stop. Why should I let it stop? And I had some really, really great support systems and mentors at school, helping me along, giving me advice, which was awesome, and I thank them very much for that. And then from there, knowing that I didn’t want to give it up, that’s when I started to tell myself: okay, how do I make this happen? Who can I talk to, who can I ask for advice, how do I get my work shown? That was all kind of the launching point during this past summer and past fall. Sometimes you just have to get involved and things start to happen. I mean, it would be nice to do just one thing, but that’s not possible. You have to be able to do all sorts of things- you have to talk and write and network, advertise and market for yourself, as well as paint, find a space to paint. There’s a lot of things you have to make sure you do, and by joining arts clubs, networks and organizations I was able to build a more complete tool kit of skills.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
In the spring of 2023 I have my first solo exhibition at the university campus gallery, Zavitz Gallery. That will be in March, so that’s what I’m working on right now. I have some big paintings that I am trying to get done for that. Then, I also have a solo exhibition at Necessary Arts Gallery Space, which is downtown Guelph, but that’s in October 2023, so I got some time.
The word “style” comes up very often in the visual arts and “finding their own style” is something that is much talked about among emerging artists. Is that something that is important to you?
Absolutely. I mean it’s hard, there are influences everywhere, there are inspirations everywhere, and things change all the time. What I’m working on right now, in preparation for this show in March, I’m hoping will be relatively different from my current work. I also understand that it’s probably not too wise to keep doing the same things over and over again. You just have to try pretty much everything, which is what I’m trying to do now, to figure something out. Hopefully, something will stick.
You said before that you got valuable advice from your support systems- is there any advice that you’d like to pass on to fellow emerging artists?
Yeah, and that would be: do things! Get involved, join a club, find a group of creatives. A year ago, I wouldn’t have done any of this stuff, I was so shy. I wouldn’t have joined the campus arts magazine or the arts network that I’m part of now. I wouldn’t have applied to a mentorship opportunity that I’ve been granted recently, which was a fantastic experience. I had a mentorship with a new contemporary gallery in Guelph, Lalani Jennings Contemporary Art. So, yeah, get involved. Look, some people aren’t going to answer, and you’re going to get turned down from a lot of things but you’re not going to get hurt, it’s all fine. If you’re turned down from one thing, maybe you’ll get the next one. Keep putting yourself out there.
What are your hopes for the future?
After my undergrad I think I am going to be taking a bit of a break. I’d like to break into some residencies which could be really beneficial for me. I also have to find a studio space that can accommodate these big paintings, so that’s probably my first step. A couple of years down the line I would like to pursue an MFA. I think that’s a necessary step for the end goal, which would ideally be to teach, to be a teacher at a university. I’ve had some great experiences going through university and I would really hope to one day do the same for another person, because it really meant a lot. There’s also a lot of teachers in my family, so I guess education runs in the family. But yeah….let’s start with finding a studio first.
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Written by Sarah Fabrizi & Nina Seidel
Edited by Nina Seidel
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