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The Meaning of what I Make

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The meaning of what I make?

Often there is a question about the meaning of what I make. What is the message and how does it relate to the viewer’s world? My work has a self evident message with the use of nostalgic imagery.  As seen in the painting highlighted titled Turn It On, this images brings to mind a fun party atmosphere with flowered paper, patterns and light colours. It seems to be self evident in that I work with found images from mid century resources and rework them into stories about our present world. Seems simple. However, when I create pieces I often think how the colour, the patterns, the transparency of materials also convey meaning. There is a deeper meaning. One that you don’t realize is part of the work at first, then it seems to become more important.

Message of materials

At times I use fabric patterns- the tissue paper with map making lines and text of Butterick printed on it. People who look at it have a moment of thinking about their childhood and how their mother sewed their clothing. It is a use of time that many no longer do. Yet when the painting is looked at- the message seems to change. It isn’t about a street in Paris. It is about the materials that make this image. In the painting Parisian Love Letter, there are handwritten letters, book pages from a romantic french novel and fabric patterns that layer onto the surface. Each piece builds the story about romance that the pop cultural image of the couple emanates. Each piece brings in the viewers alternate reality and experience. It has a depth of meaning that is not seen at first. It just builds as the viewer takes in the different pieces of materials.

Teaching the message of Art

This past week, as I was about to participate in the Cottonwood Art Festival in Dallas TX, I volunteered to present a demonstration of my work to a group of middle school kids. I realized as I was speaking that many create images without really thinking about the bigger picture. Media literacy is an important piece of education. The understanding how images convey meaning in a variety of ways is critical in being able to be a person who can critically think about their surroundings. Art plays a role in this. Imagery relates to advertising which in turn can relate to manipulation of reality. Things that we need to understand to get to the truth.

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How the power of Art can Change your Life

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Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Year, a new time;

The past few months have been a time that the relationships of power between men and women have been revealed. Movies, live  theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the Golden Globes red carpet, it has been female artists that have taken the lead to state their cases. The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state that 2018 is not a year of tolerance of sexist power structures. I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is. Time will tell if there are changes.

Paintings that tell the story of the New Year;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision. The painting highlighted is titled “Greatest Show”. This painting uses the glamorous Pan Am stewardesses as the point of departure. Women who were elegant and at the forefront of the professional definition of women’s work life. Yet there is a sarcastic twist to this image. A target practice image is set in the back ground with the text ‘greatest show’- which is from the circus promotion from Barnum and Bailey. These women walk with strength. But will they achieve their goal? I have been a feminist my entire adult life. I have yet to see equality, safety and respect for women. There is an expectation of a lesser accomplishments and stepping up is good. But will it be enough?

 

 

 

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How to preserve memories?

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How to preserve memories? Memories that happen in a glimpse of time that we experience and take for granted at that moment? There are many moments that we try to recreate through a photograph, a short film, but the actual sensation can never be recaptured.

As the holidays descend upon us, many are recreating traditions in the hope of experiencing a moment from the past. Food, gifts, gatherings are become a way to recreate the bonds that families have. These moments of the past can never be recaptured. They can never be re experienced because of age, loss of family name and just time. As my family gets older and my children become young adults, I find I grieve the loss of their childhood. This time of year has reminded me that those moments when they were young were precious and brief. There is no way to go back except to share stories with them about the “remember when”. This is the closest I can get to reliving the memory.

All of these moments of trying to understand these feelings of loss are entwined within my work in the studio. As an artist who works in the realm of nostalgia I try to understand the layers of meaning behind an old photo. Who were these people who stand so straight for the camera? What kind of lives did they have? The object of this image has a different meaning to me than to the owner of this image. This is the tension. This is where I try to find a way to communicate the sensation of this time through my own artistic interpretation . This body of work looks at the nostalgic in an very personal way. It looks at the peons moment of experience.

In an article looking at the role that art has in memory, there is a discussion in the challenges that artists face in trying to find a way to capture a memory that honours the sensation of the moment.

In the featured painting I show, titled Flying Like a Butterfly, this piece brings to mind the vintage postcards of the waterskiing shows from the 1950s. The looking at the moment of time. One that was glamorous and fun and full.

 

 

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Calling all Art Lovers!

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Wonderland Calling for Art Lovers!

This morning I met a woman who’s first words were “I am an art collector”. She hadn’t bought a piece from me, but I was struck at how proud she was that her home was filled with art. She didn’t care whether the art was seen as “good” or “bad”, rather, she loved that she had collected art made by artists who came into her life and expressed how she felt about her world. Now, she is an art collector for her kids and makes Art a special gift that gives them the “colour of their life”.

Being an art collector of others can be challenging. How do you know what to give to someone who is just getting married, or has an anniversary, or is moving into their first home? In my opinion, I don’t think it really matters. The gift is from your own perspective. You see the colour, the life and the story. The person who receives it knows that this gift comes from a place of understanding and relating to your world.

For the past three decades I have been making and selling my work to thousands of people. Yes- this may sound a little over the top, but I have kept records of everyone who has purchased from me. In the last few years, I have realized that in order for this to happen, our world needs people, like you, to love art. To look at it as a necessary part of your world that reflects back to and expands the your vision.

Recently, the founder of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Murray Koffler died. He was 93. Over 50 years ago, he created the best Art Fair in Canada. His vision? To provide a place to enable artists to show their work without the galleries, or independent gatekeeping that happens in the art world. The best part of this art fair is that it enabled the public to SEE artist’s work. It may not be in a white walled gallery, but it provided a fresh way of being exposed to work by bringing the artist directly to the public. A disruptor ahead of his time.

I have been a Director on the Board of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition for the past 5 years. This art fair show cases over 300 artists at a time. It is a direct reflection of a culture that realizes that Art is an integral part and important part of our city. Buying Art, and giving it to either yourself or to those who are important to you, supports and elevates our experience and thought. It’s important to do.

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How Art can make you into a Better Person

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When a piece of art reflects what you feel, it can give you a stronger sense of who you are.” Jean Huble

There are times when I am at an art fair, or at an opening at a gallery that I wonder about the purpose of all of this work and presentation. The business of art can be draining, and the disconnection between the creating of the piece and the final presentation of it can be a far distance. And then there are moments that there is a realization that my purpose, as an artist, is to make the world a “better place”.

What does this mean? In an interesting article by Jean Huble, titled How your Appreciation of the Arts makes You a Better Person, this question is addressed from the perspective of the appreciator. It’s not a far leap for the artist to to understand the benefit of “appreciation”. My purpose is to create Art that makes others recognize their experience. It is a form of creating an outlet for empathy. By looking at my work, the hope is the viewer will redefine and experience their own life in a deeper more resonate way. So when your daily life takes you in a moment of stress, art can be there to show the bigger world. The place that is larger than the immediate demands.

When placing artwork in my client’s homes, I am always struck by how my work becomes separate from me in another context. It takes on the meaning of the owner. My painting is no longer about my own interpretation of the image, rather, it relates and becomes the owner’s world.

In the piece highlighted, titled Floating Love, the couple is part and apart from the environment. They are on top of the world. A sensation I often feel with my husband. At the end of the day, there is a sense that we move through life, day after day, separate but together in our experiences. It is my hope that this story, this sentiment, becomes part of someone else’s life and lets them look towards the future in a positive, rewarding way.

 

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Why buy art?

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Often people ask themselves “what is the reason to buy art for their home?”. This is a normal question as Art is not a “need”. It is a “Want”. It isn’t food, shelter, or clothing. However, it is part of self care. It is part of making certain we retain our identity and reminds ourselves of who we are.

This past month has been waves of news that can spin our world into the depths of depression. Combatting the negative that surrounds us takes extra vigilance. It takes a decision to look towards brightness and life. Yes, we grieve the loss, the damaged and the destroyed. However, the goal is to keep going. To choose happiness over depression. Everyday  I go to the studio, I have moments of questioning my purpose. I imagine many people feel this way. In the last few days I have once again affirmed that my purpose in this world is to create Art that reminds us of the goodness. The place which we can find a bit of sanity and love.

In an article  titled 10 Reasons to Buy Art in the Huffington Post, the authors list simple reasons to buy handmade original paintings. They mention that “Happy walls make happy people”. I think this is true. Placing a piece of art on your wall reminds you to think of the bigger picture, the long game. The place in our world that has no fear, no hate, and reminds you to be good and loving.

When creating art, the goal is not to be sentimental in a trite way. Rather my work is about creating a story that reflects a bigger picture. One that is about connections and comfort. The desire to celebrate life in simple ways. In the piece highlighted, titled All Their is to Know, the story delves into yearning. The desire to be part of the story, the drama and the love as captured by the romance graphics from the 1950s. These Great Romance comic books were viewed with disdain by parents of the young girls who read them, but they were a place to explore stories and identity. To live a life of drama and romantic intrigue. What better way to spend time?

 

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