OCAD University (Toronto, ON)
My work explores creative expression by combining figurative painting with texture, movement and experimentation of different mediums. Working mainly in acrylic and oil paint, I convey the meaning, story, and visual inspiration behind each work. My current body of work is based on my recent travels touring with a Cirque Du Soleil show – Corteo. Over the past year I have travelled to cities all across North America and Europe, joining my partner who works on the show. Throughout my adventures, spending every day with the cast and crew, we became what felt like, a big circus family.
During this time, I develop a fascination with performers, acrobats, and clowns in the contemporary lifestyle of a traditional circus. As I noticed myself becoming accustom to living in the circus – regularly having meals sitting across the table from a fully-suited clown, I knew I needed to make art about this before it became so normal I would no longer acknowledge how unusual and extraordinary my experience was.
When creating work, I aim to capture the physical likeness of the performer and the uniqueness of the individual as a professional circus clown. Based around the original circus aesthetic, the old-fashioned clown costume and makeup is predominate in my work. I convey clarity and honesty to the portrait, inviting the viewer to appreciate the fundamentals of the character. I reveal the individual, looking beyond the show makeup toward the human condition with empathy to the personal connection I have with each performer I paint. The evident slowness in my paintings acknowledge attention paid to the layering of information, built-up levels of paint, and a complexity of mixed colours which bring the paintings to life.
The body of work became unexpectedly more momentous while in production, as the beloved Cirque Du Soleil came to a halt due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Companywide, the cast and crew were laid off and sent home. As I continued to make my paintings the fear continued to grow over conversation of bankruptcy to the company and the chance that Cirque may never resume. Making this work in these unprecedented times has made me treasure the time I was able to travel with the show even more so. Through my brush strokes, I hope that my work can provoke similar wonder, exuberance and offer memories that frolic with the senses that Cirque Du Soleil has brought to this world.