Québec born, Halifax based, returning to Montréal
The Good Summer (#2), oil on board, 8″x11″, 2016
Your painting often depicts sadness and loneliness, is sadness important in our lives?
Sure, but I don't think about sadness as my only experience in life. I think I'm more interested in loneliness. I especially like thinking about being with myself. I don't like being lonely, but I often find myself being in social situations and feeling a detachment. I think my paintings are also really humorous, they reference cartoons like Charlie brown or the Simpsons, and I find those characters to have a simpleness about them and a profound emotional weight.
Solitude is nice, it's actually pretty difficult to be in a state of solitude. I remember a quote by Jim Valvano, he said something like " there are three things we need in our lives: Smile, think, and be emotional." Interesting that you brought up Charlie Brown and The Simpsons, they both have memorable facial features, are you creating your own signature style?
I think maybe a little bit. I feel like I'm interested in portraits, but I want the body to be malleable. For example, in the Simpsons, Homer constantly strangles Bart to the point of Bart's neck extending and being stretched beyond survivable lengths. But it's a cartoon, so he never dies. I paint things however I feel the painting needs to be painted and I definitely do have a recurring set of figures that are related. I am excited for the characters to change and become other types of things and people, so I'm not trying to be too precious with a signature style. Experimenting is necessary too.
What about the pose? Most of the characters are facing 45 degree, they're not head on. It's like you were doing a life drawing session.
The pose is sort of suggesting that these characters are sitting for me. Most of the paintings are of invented figures, so it's funny that they come across as life drawing. I do, however, enjoy looking at people and I do draw from life often.
Are the characters genderless?
I'd like to think they represent myself. They're not self-portraits necessarily, but my paintings often depict moods and attitudes that I've experienced in my life. They're boys, but they're super malleable. I have a painting which I called Sissy Boy, and I relate strongly to that title.
Bugman, 5′ x 4′, Oil on canvas, 2015
Since I've never met you, what are you like in real life? Do you always feel lonely?
I often feel like a walking contradiction. I feel lonely, but probably no more than any other person. I'm a very social person and consider myself very personable. Loneliness can be felt while hanging with a group of friends, so I don't think anyone can escape those feelings. But I don't always feel lonely, I'm mostly in my head a lot. I think about art all of the time, and I believe that can create barriers for people.
Walking contradiction is a song by Green Day, not sure if you knew that. what art topics are you thinking right now?
Ha! I didn't know it was a Green Day song, but I should've known better. Right now I'm thinking a lot about fashion, specifically how people my age are dressing. I'm interested in recurring colours that become more popular than other colours. I've been thinking about the hike in the neon trend. I've been thinking about sneakers and purses with fluffy pom-poms dangling from gold chains. I'm thinking large jackets and faux-leather boots. I've also been thinking about the works of Janet Werner and Katherine Bernhardt, there's totally an element of fashion and glamour in their paintings. I'm really interested in what they're doing and would love to work towards those kinds of feelings.
Fudge Packer, acrylic on board, 9″ x 12″, 2016
Sissy Boy, acrylic on board, 9″ x 12″, 2016
What are you currently working on?
I recently applied for grad school, which was stressful and took a lot of energy. I've also been making smaller drawings and paintings. I have some ideas for some larger paintings, so that will be happening. It's been really strange making work outside of school, it feels slower and less productive. I'm really anxious to have a chunk of time to focus solely on my studio practice, which is why I was so eager to apply for grad school.
What's the value of MFA?
I think education is important, and time is extremely valuable. I'm really interested in furthering my studio practice and working around other artists. Schools have a lot of resources and networks, and artists can be drawn to those kinds of opportunities. For example, faculty can be very appealing. I would love to be able to have Janet Werner, Eleanor Bond, Eliza Griffiths, and François Morelli as my teachers/advisors, so I applied to Concordia University in Montréal. I think there are many ways to be an artist, grad school is something I'm really interested in doing.
How many schools did you apply?
Just one. I don't buy into the "apply to many schools" strategy. I know where I want to be. If I'm not accepted I will simply regroup and try again next year.
That's risky but I like it. It's important to follow what you want in life.
I don't really feel like I'm taking a risk. I am very okay with my life and art practice unfolding slowly. If something doesn't work out, I see no problem with trying different things until I find something that works for me. A lot of my interests revolve around trying things out and seeing what happens next. I'm also not as stressed as I was while applying for grad school. Now that I've applied, I feel much calmer and a lot more confident in my skin. Just the application process alone was a learning experience, and I'm grateful to be in a position of privilege where I'm able to apply to grad school in the first place.
Funeral, 5′ x 4′, Acrylic on canvas, 2016
Music you're currently obsessed with.
I've been listening to Da Brat and it's been the best time.
What is a typical day/week like for you?
I work full time at a job I don't like, so my routine is filled with wasted hours of capitalist exploitation.
How do you cope with the job you don't like?
I think of the big picture and try to focus on what's really important in my life. Because of my shitty job, I value the friends who treat me with dignity and respect much more. I have small projects on the go nearly always. I need to have things going on around me in order to feel inspired. I'm also going to be quitting my terrible job fairly soon, and that makes it easier to work there.
How to stay motivated and focused as an artist?
Art is really difficult. Making art is challenging, speaking about art is challenging, absolutely everything about art is challenging. But, it's also the most rewarding and nourishing thing I have ever done. I think art requires empathy, patience and trust. I think in order for an artist to remain focused they must be very honest with themselves and others.
Congratulations on being accepted to Concordia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Can I ask you what the MFA application was like? how can I be prepared for it?
The application requirements are very straightforward, it's very clear what is being asked from you. The difficult part, however, is actually doing it. What I found the most challenging is how much self-analysis is required filling out an mfa application. You have to be incredibly honest with yourself and what you're doing with your practice. It requires a genuine understanding of what you are attempting to do, and being able to communicate that in an effective manner.
The letter of intent was the scariest part. A teacher and dear friend of mine, anna sprague, helped me so much while writing. I was having such a difficult time, I couldn't organize my thoughts at all. I wrote so many drafts that were revised and restructured so many times. It was incredibly stressful and was a huge learning curve for me.
Now you got accepted to Concordia, anything you want to do before starting your new journey?
I'm really excited to start school in the fall, but until then I'll just see what happens.
Heather with a braid, oil on linen, 8″x10″ 2017