Nancy King (Chief Lady Bird): Sisterhood, youth empowerment and decolonizing through art & healing

I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the studio of Nancy King, First Nations (Potawatomi and Chippewa) artist and all-around-maker from Rama First Nation. Nancy's Anishinabee name is Ogimaakwebnes, which means Chief Lady Bird, and her practice weaves together contemporary painting techniques with traditional Indigenous craft materials to navigate the intricacy of identity, representation and intergenerational knowledge. We sat down and had a thought-provoking conversation about empowering our youth, the power of sisterhood and decolonizing through art, collaboration and healing.

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Maria José Arias G: Reimagining art, advertising and spectrums of storytelling

Back-to-school studio invasion alert! Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with emerging illustrator, designer and art director Maria José Arias for coffee and conversation. Born and raised in Cali, Colombia, this spirited creative is currently living in Toronto and studying Advertising and Digital Media Studies at OCAD University.  Amongst numerous plants, framed art prints and an teal vinyl record player, we chatted about: female objectification in mainstream media, the intersecting roles of art and advertising, and navigating the 'latina' label.

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Kendra Yee: Zine culture, multiple realities and the unpredictability of freelancing

Kendra Yee's rainbow space tornado reveals itself in seconds as you climb the stairs leading into White House Studio Project in Kensington Market. Greeted by remnants of a full-wall mural from her latest solo exhibition "My Best Friend.......Felon", I turn left and end up face-to-face with an overload of baby monster ceramics and printer-size papers scribbled with marker, gel pens and every other art supply imaginable. We sit down with the Toronto-based freelance illustrator to chat about multiple realities, rollercoasting through styles and zine culture in the city. 

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Jamiyla Lowe: Magical bestiaries, rainbow acrylics and challenging the gatekeepers of academic art

A glimpse of Jamiyla Lowe's paintings is like stepping into a mythical world where quirky skeletal creatures dance in tropical caves and swing amongst tiger lilies without a care in the world. Born in Montréal, Jamiyla has developed an extensive portfolio overflowing with screenprinted bestiaries of magical beings, surreal circus acts and bizarre dreamscapes. I sat down with her to chat about freelancing, the freedom to experiment and challenging the gatekeepers of academic and commercial art. 

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Trudy Erin Elmore: Alchemy, eternal life and the hyper-surrealism of technology

Trudy Erin Elmore's screen-bejewelled studio is scattered with plants, flowers, books and assorted animal skulls. Raised in Kootenay Mountain Range in BC, the talented new media artist now finds herself based in Toronto and has had her work both exhibited nationally and published internationally. Our conversation extended for a couple of hours, beginning with a demonstration of the technical/creative process behind CINEMA 4D and weaving through contemplations on life, death and the intersections of spiritual transcendence and technological evolution. We chat about retiring the paintbrush, challenging binaries and freedom IRL.

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Christina Mazzulla: Urban culture, aerosol mountains and collective evolution

Enter the multi-coloured, post-apocalyptic spacescaps of Toronto-based artist Christina Mazzulla. Influenced by the pressures and anxiety of rapid urbanization, Christina creates vivid layered paintings of barren land: an alternate universe of aerosol mountains and gradient suns. Not long ago, I payed her a studio visit and we had a stimulating conversation about urban art, collective evolution and coming to terms with one's ego. 

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Maria Qamar: Privilege, playfulness and the glamourization of female artists

I had the pleasure of invading Maria Qamar's (aka HateCopy) brand-new studio not long ago. As she unpacked her canvases, we were able to sift through her portfolio collection and chat about her creative drive and influences. Inspired by the parallels between Indian soap operas and classic American comic books, Maria has created a strong series of tongue-in-cheek paintings that playfully explore Desi pop culture through a contemporary lens. We discuss art parties, the glamourization of female artists and the representation of people of colour in the city's art scene.

 

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Shanna Van Maurik: Talking with paint, schmoozing galleries and art on Instagram

We had the pleasure of invading the studio of Toronto-based artist Shanna Van Maurik to capture a glimpse of the chaotically organized space where she paints her vibrant, rainbow-embedded oil paintings of young women. A fusion of neon skulls, palm ferns and mirror selfies in varsity jackets, Shanna's portrait emulate an empowering "over it" attitude of stylish girls the artist discovers on the internet. We had an engaging conversation about selling art on social media, schmoozing the gallery world and talking with paint. 

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Erin Armstrong: Dreamscapes, exhibiting abroad and escaping the literal

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the gorgeous studio of Toronto-based figurative painter Erin Armstrong to chat about her practice and experience navigating city art scenes around the world. Currently represented by Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland and Otomys Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, Armstrong speaks of the varied responses her work has received and gives her thoughts on the conservatism of the Toronto art market. We had an engaging discussion about entrepreneurial independence, resisting 'gender-appropriate' content and a desire for intergenerational mentorship. Read more below

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