Tell me a little bit about you!
I am an artist and writer based in Toronto, Canada. With words and materials I weave, touch, cut,
loop, assemble, and unravel, working through ideas physically and conceptually. I studied literature and fine art in Montreal at Concordia University, and I continue to be influenced by these two disciplines. Over time I have recognized that I am interested in oblique ways of speaking rather than in stories that unfold in straight lines. I prefer stories that come in the shape of webs, nets, and tangled balls. I have written poems that splice together my personal journals with the fine print on my visa statements. I have participated in meditation retreats that have lasted for up to three months, where I watched my mind repeat the same boring stories in loop after loop. As a teenager I spent two months canoeing a mountainous river system in the Yukon. At the end of the trip I had forgotten what my own face looked like. Recently, I lived for three months in the former groundskeeper’s quarters near a Viennese castle with a group of international artists. I explored dislocation and gesture within a foreign city.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I have been drawing since before I can remember. In grade six we were asked to copy a painting. At the time, there was an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto that featured a painting by Matisse, of his wife (“Madras Rouge- the Red Madras Headress” 1907). I copied that painting in cheap tempera paint and it hung in my room for years. That same year I covered my jeans in blue ballpoint pen drawings, of hands, eyes, invented patterns. It was a way of being physically present in the classroom but mentally free- a passive form of resistance. I knew then that art was a doorway to freedom.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I am currently reading a book called “Hunger Mountain” by David Hinton, that explores mind and landscape. He talks about the structure of ancient Chinese poetry, how those poets were using language that was structured very differently from English. In English, there is always a subject, a central “I” to which things happen. The poets he talks about wrote within a very open structure. The meaning of the words is less determined. In a sense they float within an empty space and the space is as much a part of the poem as the words. I am still sorting out what this means but I find it very appealing.
What is your process like?
I work on many pieces at the same time. The paintings can take months or years to complete, the drawings often emerge more quickly, sometimes in one sitting. I rarely plan in advance. They happen spontaneously, and improvisation within the constraints at hand is crucial to advancing the piece. I often use simple rules within a series to limit the variables I’m working with.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
The advice I’ve received most often boils down to: trust yourself. This sounds simple or even trite but I think really understanding what that means is a lifelong process. Also my niece, four years old at the time, told me to use more yellow.
Describe your studio.
I have a table for drawing and stretching paintings; and a wall to work on that is about 10 ft long. It’s an industrial space I share with four other artists. There is a window at one end that has really beautiful light especially in the morning.
What do you find most challenging, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Pursuing an art career means lots of ups and downs, uncertainty, rejection, and the need to constantly make decisions about what you value. You have to have nerves of steel. No one will tell you to do the thing you want to do, you have to motivate yourself. It offers freedom and the massive anxiety that that entails.
If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?
Agnes Martin. We probably wouldn’t talk much. Maybe we would sit in silence together and every once in awhile take a sip of whiskey.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
quietly moving web
What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?
Go for a walk, read a poem, look at some of my favourite artists, eat chocolate
What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?
I love that you can take drawing with you anywhere you go. All you need is paper and some sort of mark making tool. Painting I love because you get to use colour. Colour is kryptonite.
What do you need or value most as an artist?
What keeps you creating?
Curiosity, restlessness, wonder
What are you working on right now?
I am writing a series of poems about loss, landscape, and home. I am working on drawings that weave surfaces from simple repeated gestures until they take on a three dimensional shape. They are slow, repetitive, and emerge in the moment, the end result as much a surprise to me as to anyone else
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