The Artist’s Project was back in Toronto from February 18th – 21st for its 13th season. This year, over 300 talented independent artists gathered at the Better Living Centre to showcase their work, connect with other artists and, perhaps the most exciting part, meet future owners of their art.  

This year’s theme “A More Personalized Experience with Art”, featured a host of interactive stations that allowed visitors to use or become a part of the art as alternatives to traditional ways of experiencing it. Telegenic was one such exhibit that introduced video and VR artwork to the fair. There were also curated Art Chats, hourly art walks led by a designated artist tour/ guide (opening night had Toronto-based favourite, Tahsin the Good) and the Untapped Emerging Artist Competition where new artists showed off their work for the first time. 

We took the opportunity to have brief chats with some of the artists to watch this year, to discuss their work, and their time at this year’s fair. 

By Julia Mercanti

Julia Mercanti 

HOLR: How would you describe your work?

JULIA: I would describe my work as fantastical, hopefully funny, neon and current! I think I have a knack for observing trends and observing in general. 

HOLR: What inspires you to create?

JULIA: Colour! 

HOLR: How did you feel about being at the Artist’s Project this year? 

JULIA: It was my third year. I love going and meeting people. It’s so much fun. It’s important for artists to meet the people who are viewing their work and get feedback. It’s so priceless. The conversations you have with people are so important because not everyone has that open critique with their work. When it’s online or in a gallery, you’re sometimes so far removed from understanding how your work is being received and perceived. So, I like these shows because I’m literally there and ready to talk. 

HOLR: Where can we find you?

JULIA: Instagram: @Julesmercanti Website: juliamercanti.com 

 

Christina Nnawuchi

Christine Nnawuchi 

HOLR: How long have you been an artist?

CHRISTINE: All my life really. Not the ceramics, but art in general, definitely. When it comes to ceramics, it’s only been 5 years. 

HOLR: How would you describe your work?

CHRISTINE:  Imagine an archaeological dig, where we’ve unearthed the workspace of a high priestess – these are the elements we’d find. I have a piece called Apothecary, and it’s essentially very functional for her. She would have put herbs or spices in it; things that she would have dried to make her potions and antidotes. One of my favourite pieces is called Medicine Staff. It speaks for itself. When you hold it, you really do feel its power. I have another called Sacred Amulet that provides protection to herself and those she’s assisting in her village. These are reflective of her and her journey, and the way that she helps her village. This year, I’d like to discover the rest of the village: there’ll be a weapon’s maker, a baker, a family. I’m looking forward to expanding this world. 

HOLR: What is the relationship you have with your work?

CHRISTINE: My work is reflective of my heritage. I’m half Nigerian and lived in Nigeria as a child. It’s a part of my life that I embrace and I love. I’m also Caribbean. From a Nigerian perspective, there are potters in my family, and there’s always been a relationship with clay. I’ve used other mediums like paint or interior design to express myself, but when I use clay and have porcelain in my hand, it just feels right. It feels natural. Like I can be in my studio for hours on end without eating, without thinking about anything else besides me and my clay. 

HOLR: How did you feel about being at The Artist’s Project?

CHRISTINE: Overwhelmed and so excited. I was just happy to be there. 

Where can we find you? Instagram: @nawuchi Website: christinennawuchi.com

 

Gordon Shadrach

Gordon Shadrach 

HOLR: How would you describe your work?

GORDON: My work celebrates what’s been missing a lot in contemporary western art: depictions of Black men that are not stereotypical. So, my focus is looking at contemporary men, while also addressing issues around absence in portraiture, historically. The portraits I do may be from the Edwardian or Victorian era but one of the things I try to do is modernize them, or allow them to be their true selves. So with my work, we’re taking back our birthright and what’s natural to us. 

HOLR: What inspires you to create?

GORDON: I’ve always been encouraged to see what wasn’t being shown and what wasn’t being represented, and it was always Black people. At one of my past exhibits, I had a lot of Black portraits and some Black people came and they responded so positively. It was then that I realized how important representation is. Eventually, I really changed gears and turned into a portrait artist specifically to protest the lack of representation, especially in Canada. 

HOLR: How did you feel about being at The Artist’s Project?

GORDON: It was great! It felt good to see more people of colour at the art fair, especially in the emerging section. I think The Artist’s Project does a good job of trying to address the diversity issue with art. I saw that more this year. Not all art fairs are as inclusive. They’re trying. 

HOLR: What would you say about working with other artists?

GORDON:  To artists —  don’t work in isolation, find people, keep fighting the good fight. Being an artist is really solitary. So many artists, you stay at home, or you go in your space and you do your work, and you don’t think about mingling. Artist Nick Cave from the US was saying to myself and another artist (LEGO artist, Ekow Nimako) that we need to make our own spaces, actually just get together more often. I’m trying to arrange more meet and greets, more talks. 

Where can we find you? Instagram: @Gordon_Shadrach Website: GordonShadrach.com 

 

Lili Lee

Lili Lee (Eun Young Lee) 

HOLR: Tell us about your work.

LILI: My work is mainly comprised of lines and circles on rice paper. I’ve been working with oriental painting for over a decade and now I’m trying contemporary art. My painting is kind of the perfect balance of rhythm. 

HOLR:  What inspires you to create?

LILI: I’m really interested in furniture, circles and very straight lines. I’m obsessed with rhythm and balance. The shade and colours are of the furniture from Bauhaus. It’s all inspiration. 

HOLR: How do you feel about being at The Artist’s Project?

LILI: I feel very lucky to have been there and a part of the Untapped Artists this year. It’s been pressure for me, but I’m super happy, super excited, super duper optimistic about this and the opportunity. Also, this was my first show in Canada. I moved to Canada last summer so I’m pretty new. I really want to focus on my painting here. I don’t want to lose any of my skills. 

HOLR: Where can we find you?

LILI: Instagram: @ooo_lilili  Website: Lileeyoung.com  

 

Brooke Palmer

Brooke Palmer Instagram: @BrookePalmerArtist Website: BrookePalmerArt.com 

 

Jade Usackas

Jade Usackas Instagram: @ColourWorship Website: JadeUsackas.com 

 

Julia Campisi

Julia Campisi Website: JuliaCampisi.com 

 

Check out the incredible work by the artists above as well as some others you should put on your list as well. For more about The Artist’s Project and the next show in Toronto, visit theartistproject.com.

 

 

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