Category: Visual Artist

Full Fine Art – An Interview with Georgia Fullerton

Georgia Fullerton was drawn to artistic expression as a young girl living Jamaica. Years later, now based in Toronto, she has found her footing and embraces the mantle that comes with living life as a full time creative. As we prepared to close the curtain on 2017, while Fullerton readied herself for a coming art exhibit in her home country; Jamaica, she fit us into her schedule and gave us the opportunity to get to know her, her art and her journey.

“Ackee, no saltfish” by Georgia Fullerton

I am always interested in a person’s artistic journey, can you tell me about yours? When did you start painting & drawing? And, when did you decide to build a career from this?

Georgia: My journey in art began, from what I can remember, at age 2 when my mother was still in Jamaica (my birthplace), preparing to come to Canada. My father was already in Alberta, securing a teaching job and finding a home for the rest of the family. My parents would write letters back and forth and in one particular letter I had scribbled a small ‘note’ to my father. It was my first markmaking as a young artist. Moving through my school age years I spent time on my own drawing but the original inspiration to came from my mother, who in the mid-seventies got her Masters of Education at the University of Calgary and brought home many lithograph prints and drawings. I would sit and look through her work and conduct my own critiques and sometimes title the works for her. My parents always encouraged me and my siblings to pursue areas in the arts. In 1983 I enrolled at Red Deer College in Alberta and studied visual arts with a specialization in Printmaking. Transferring to York University’s Fine Arts Department in 1985 I received my Bachelor of Arts degree and began my working career in the print industry. I learned and succeeded in multiple areas of print production; from apparel printing, offset printing to leading edge digital print on demand and direct mail marketing. After an 18-year career in print production my desire to pursue my passion for visual arts led me to put aside the nine to five and focus on becoming a full-time artist. As it is, we artists wear many hats and I am no different as an arts educator, facilitator and an expressive arts therapist; a new direction.

How has your art evolved throughout the years? (What themes did you explore before and which ones do you do now?) And why?

Georgia: My earlier work was mostly portraits and figurative in theme. Using acrylic paints, I would focus on people who made some kind of impact on my life, like my family members, exlovers and others who were part of my journey. The figurative works were inspired by my own curiosity with the human form. Also because in college and university I was heavily involved in sports, I grappled with the duality in my art of “the artist and the jock”. Today I consider myself to be an abstract expressionist artist, as my style has changed to a more intuitive way of conceptualizing and painting. I still paint with primarily acrylics and use found objects like wood, hair, fabric and plant life to add texture and play to my art. The themes in my work today explore the self, healing from trauma and the relationship that occurs between artist, image and the liminal space between them. My work delves into the psychology of art and relationship.

The Absurd Beauty By Georgia Fullerton

Correct me if I’m wrong but, your latest work seems to be mostly Abstract Expressionism, what lead you to make that artistic choice? (If not, then feel free to still explain why a large part of your collection is Abstract Expressionism)

Georgia: Yes that story is one I find myself telling each time I’m asked to do an artist talk or present at a school or community event. Back in 2010 I was the victim of domestic abuse and that experience not only changed my life and sense of self, but also was what changed my artistic style. The result of this one-time abusive situation found me back at the matrimonial home of my exhusband who allowed me to stay there until I “sorted myself out”. The six months I stayed there with our daughter, I spent a lot of time in the spare bedroom surrounded by canvasses, paints, brushes and my memories of the recent trauma I suffered. It’s here that I began to view my relationship with art differently. I started to use my art therapeutically and my paintbrush became my healing stick. As a result of this awakening, I created 3 large pieces that exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum in the largest group show at a major venue featuring artists of Caribbean and African descent. It was a turning point for my art and my impending career. I was introduced to a new type of therapy known as Expressive Arts Therapy. Throughout my training in this form of therapy, my studio work began change to abstraction and unearthed a more intuitive approach to art-making. I began to focus more on the process than the end product.

There is a lot of beauty and soul in your Portrait and Figures pieces. What inspires these most?

Georgia: These pieces always come around because of an emotion that I feel from someone I’ve had communication with. It’s a simple representation of a feeling or thought around an experience I’ve had with someone or something. The element of surprise is the existence of bold sensuality and sometimes eroticism in some of these images and their expression.

‘Femask’ by Georgia Fullerton

Q: Femask and Maskulyn in particular, can you explain the vision and choices behind them?

Georgia: Like so many of my early works, there is always a back story to the back story. The inspiration with these two paintings came from an exhibition theme called MASK (Scotiabank Caribana exhibition; Blue Dot Gallery, Toronto). This duo expresses the idea of the masculine and feminine sensibilities through the lens of sexual dominion and role reversal. ‘Femask’ accentuates the strong, beautiful, and sensual energy of a female inspired mask. The male counterpart is the painting ‘Maskulyn’ that fuses a masculine figure with the seemingly more feminine act of crying in an attempt to show that regardless of the temporary mask or masks we wear, expressing who we are and what we feel brings forth both feminine and masculine traits.

‘Within reach’ by Georgia Fullerton

“The healing impact of the arts on the human experience,” seems to be important to you. Can you expound on that? (Why do you feel that way?)

Georgia: I think we live in a society today that at times overlooks the inclusion of the arts as a way to address the global concern of human suffering. Mental health/mental illness as topics are ‘trending’ in the world today, and I feel that with social justice issues and our obsession with technology; for example, people are missing the importance of using creativity as a way of healing and gaining greater self-awareness and overall wellness. I also make that statement because I have experienced art and art-making as innately therapeutic. My mission is to be a messenger in communities where the arts is overlooked or not viewed as something that can help us in our attempt to live a whole and healthy life!

I also like to ask successful Artists to share a bit of advice or words of encouragement with others who are considering that path. Can you share one key lesson or life mantra you adopted along your journey, that you think helped you a lot?

Georgia: Be open to discovery and change in your artistic career and use everything you encounter as a resource to developing your practice. I’m a big believer in what I call creative cross-training; where exploring the use of other modalities of art can enhance, and open up new pathways of ‘seeing’ and relating to your primary form of artistic expression. I’ve learned that from my work in expressive arts therapy, that movement, using voice, writing or playing an instrument, has informed and inspired my visual art and brought it to a new creative level. My vision puts a spotlight on a world where play and imagination through the arts leads to overall wellness. I love the quote by Georgia O’Keeffe: “To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” To add to this beautiful vision, in my own quote I say, “It’s in that place of non-judgment where art expands the possibilities.”

What is next on your journey?

GENERAL

• I plan on continuing to practice and promote my original art and build my brand FULL Fine Art in 2018. The continued support of community helps to keep me grounded and engaged with marginalized populations, continuing to offer therapeutic arts programming and give back to my community.

• Expand JustGeorgia® my arts-based business that delivers therapeutic arts workshops in community settings and helps to stifle the stigma surrounding mental health in marginalized communities.

• Bring Expressive Arts therapy programming to Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean.

SPECIFIC

• A live painting and mini-exhibition event, Christmas 2017 at Living Spaces-Fine Furniture & Accessories in Kingston, Jamaica.

• Partner with the City of Toronto SPARK Funding program from May to October, 2018, as part of the city’s Cultural Hotspot community arts initiative.

• Assist in the creation and facilitation of a new Art and Health Program at TAIBU Community Centre in Toronto.

• Begin the process of becoming a registered psychotherapist with the College of Psychotherapist of Ontario

• In the future to partner again with The Royal Ontario Museum for their Friday Night Live events.

• Continue to develop The Imaginative Language of Art Program™ (The ILA Program™) a therapeutic arts program for young and old with learning differences. I anticipate a combination of individual and collaborative opportunities in my future, that will keep me living artfully!

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Georgia works out of her home studio in Ajax, Ontario, Canada

website: www.fullfineart.com

contact: info@fullfineart.com

 

How To Enhance Your Directing Process

 

Every film director is different. Especially when it concerns style, experience, execution, preferences and so on. After directing my own short film, these are a few things that helped my process.

1 Block your scenes through the viewfinder

The simple way to define blocking is, the movements of characters in relation to the movement of the camera (the audience’s point of view).  Of course, there are more than a few ways to block a scene. Depending on the director, a few lines of action and dialogue in a script could translate on screen as a comedy, drama, romantic comedy or a suspense scene. By this fact, blocking also involves the performance and not just the movement. Now for the tip: always block your scenes through the viewfinder when possible. (Obviously if you’re shooting on a DSLR you’d have to turn the camera off to view your shot through the viewfinder). Doing this forces you to think more consciously about the 3 dimensional space you’re dealing with as well as gauging the distance between the camera and the performer. Whereas blocking using the flat, two dimensional monitor doesn’t give you an accurate idea of spacing.

 

2 Use prime lenses

Why? For starters they’re sharper, more affordable, more portable (all relative by the way). But using lenses with a fixed focal length allows you to think more actively about how you shoot a scene. Because there’s no quick and easy way to get a closeup on an actor or to fit more in the frame, you’re forced to physically move the camera, which in turn affects the process of the actor, for better or worse. But overall it does let you think more creatively about getting a shot as opposed to just zooming in or out.

 

3 Know every process

Terry Gilliam once told Quentin Tarantino that <paraphrased; as a director, it’s not your job to know how to operate a camera, or move lights around to get a certain effect, or how to record sound or any of that. As a director,  your job is to have a vision. And then it’s your job to be able to articulate that vision to the talented people around you who can use their skill to help you achieve that vision.” For me, this is a more than perfect description of what a film director is. BUT, put plainly, you do give yourself a huge advantage when you have a working -not perfect- knowledge of what each process in filmmaking entails. You don’t need to be a DP for 3 years to know what a DP does but it’s good to be an instant expert on all processes so that 1) you know when your crew is lying to you that something can’t be done (lol) and 2) in the case of many independent filmmakers getting started, you’ll need to teach your crew how to do their jobs effectively, so the more you know the better.

 

4 Get to know who you’re working with

This could easily be overlooked but I think it’s highly important that you actually take time to find out what kind of personality types you’ll be spending your time with on a particular project. If they’re unlikeable, or worse yet, not knowledgeable enough then what could be a simple, fun project could end up dragging on and becoming a gloom. On the other hand, persons who are just as passionate and on a similar wavelength can be more fun and make you a better filmmaker overall.

 

— END

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‘I Am Here’: An Interview with Keisha Scarville

Keisha Scarville, I Am Here, Salt. 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.

Keisha Scarville is a photo and multimedia artist who alters and reforms the perception of regular items through themes of transformation, migration and displacement. Raised by Guyanese parents, the Brooklyn based artist uses her unconventional art work as a means to express her nationality and homeland, which has allowed her to be exhibited in a wide number of locations, for example, The Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem. In this brief interview, Scarville discusses her intuitive direction in both art and photography as well the artistic process surrounding them.

There is a lot of depth in you artwork. Do you find yourself using a form of critical theory to express your work? Does it affect your creative process and thinking?

There is no particular critical theory that completely informs my work. My work is influenced by various writers and philosophies. I love the writing of Gaston Bachelard. His book, ‘The Poetics of Space’, has changed the way I approached photographing spaces and landscapes.

Keisha Scarville, Passport Series, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the Passport series, you have touched on the issues of immigration through the eyes of two generations and through the art of mixed media. How has using this type of medium helped justify your artistic vision?

The series, “Passports” is an ongoing project where I repeatedly reinterpret my father’s earliest passport photo. I am interested in the aesthetics of a passport photo as a signifier but also the guidelines that inform how one positions and presents oneself within the frame. Through an interrogative process, I re-imagine the image of my father as a subject of a nation to forge a dialogue with the image. I use collage, paint, and other materials to transfigure and dislodge the unmoving stoicism of the printed image and create an alternate spatial narrative. In each piece, I respond to the shape shifting effects of immigration and my own personal history. I treat the photograph as a platform on which all these embedded and intertwined histories can be explored and layered.

Keisha Scarville, Passport Series, 2014 and 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the I am Here Series, I see that passport photo being represented again along with images of a second person. Can you tell us what this series is all about?

I am interested in the notion of home – how it is conceived, transformed, and lost. As a first generation Guyanese American, I often find myself occupying this hyphenated space where I don’t fully identify with being American nor am I considered Guyanese. I wonder what it means to create a space of belonging. What does it mean to designate a place/space as home? The “I am here” series is a personal journey towards claiming and understanding the conception of a home. In the project I explore how rituals, objects, spaces and the body can be visually excavated as primary sites of belonging. This series preceded the “Passports” project and was the impetus for developing that body of work.

Keisha Scarville, I Am Here, Dad’s passport, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

It seems that you are no stranger to photography either. How did you come about learning and developing your skills in photography?

I first learned photography while in high school. It was a transformative experience — holding a camera for the first time and looking at the world around me, deciding what to capture, and then holding those moments in my hands forever. I have been completely obsessed and fascinated by photography from that time. I went on to study photography in undergrad, as well as, focusing on photography and art therapy through graduate level classes.

Keisha Scarville, I Am Here, Bones, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

Do you see photography as a way to establish a new perspective in the art of storytelling and capturing moments?

I don’t think of it as new, but an alternative way of conveying narrative. I think people have always used photography to visually communicate stories. Now, more people have access to image-making devices. With the abundance and overwhelming speed at which we can produce images, my concern becomes how we read these images. Like all forms of communication, we need to be able to develop a method to take careful consideration of what images do, how they operate, and how to deconstruct/interpret the narrative.

Keisha Scarville, Mama’s ClothesSeries, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

In an article for Vice Magazine, you spoke about the search of identity through imagery in a collection of photographs called Mama’s Clothes. How did you feel about this art piece and what would you like viewers to take from it?

In the series, “Mama’s Clothes,” I explore the experience of absence and the camera’s role in visualizing what cannot be seen, but felt. I explore the paradox of abundance within absence and the phenomenology of space. In the photographs, I present my body cloaked in my deceased mother’s clothes. I am interested in how the clothing can be transformed into residual, surrogate skin. In the series, I am looking at ways I can facilitate and construct a visual place where I can conjure her presence while using my body as a medium.

Keisha Scarville, Mama’s Clothes Series, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Also in this same series, the usage of clothing had a strong symbolic meaning. Most of your work weighs heavily on the contextualized meaning placed on everyday objects, which is not as subtle in most cases. Do you think this unique feature differentiates you as an artist?

A great deal of my work focuses on the biological, historical, and symbolic references of objects. I did a two-person exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) entitled, ‘Surrogate Skin: The Biology of Objects’. This project and exhibition allowed me to showcase the elements that inform my art practice.

Keisha Scarville, Mama’s Clothes Series, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

What final thoughts would you like to leave for young artists and photographers alike?

Break the rules, read as much as possible, and remain curious. 

 

 

 

Scarville is currently hosting an exhibition at the Contact Photo Gallery, Toronto, ‘An unassailable and monumental dignity from September 21st– November 18th.

For more information on Keisha Scarville, kindly visit her website www.keishascarville.com