What was your route to becoming an artist? What influences translate into your art practice?
Until my early thirties I actually had no idea I would ever become an artist. I come from a science background so it definitely wasn’t a straight line… I first graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 2001. I then traveled the world and eventually settled in Japan for a few years, where I worked as an English teacher. It is during that period that, for reasons that I still don’t fully understand, I felt compelled to become an artist. So, upon my return to my home country of Canada in 2010, I started studying art – and I never looked back.
Unsurprisingly, and although it took me a long time to see it myself, mathematics and Japan both strongly influence my work to this day, often expressing themselves in the form of meditative repetition, meticulous symmetry, neutral colours, simple lines… and obsessive attention to detail.
What initially captured your imagination about glass?
I don’t think I chose glass as much as glass chose me, to be honest… It was quite serendipitous. As mentioned before, after a few years living in Japan, I was contemplating a career change and was juggling different options when I bumped into an article about scientific glassblowing. Something clicked. So I started looking into it. When I realized that there wasn’t any scientific glassblowing training available in Canada, I decided to try the glass art program in Montreal instead (at Espace Verre), thinking it would at least allow me to get a feel for the material. The problem is, I got hooked. (As we all did, didn’t we?)
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
Even though I trained in glass art, in recent years my practice has become more and more multidisciplinary. I still work with glass of course (in particular cast glass), but my work now integrates a much wider variety of materials including clay, ceramics, paper, plaster, textile and found objects, to name but a few. Along with this transition into a multidisciplinary practice, my interest has also progressively shifted towards site-specific art and ephemeral art – art that exists in a place and a time, that relates to its immediate surroundings, to the here and now. I find this to be a beautifully compelling element in art-making.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
My recent shift towards installation art means that my process now tends to begin with the exhibition space itself. I like to immerse myself in it – to spend time there, to go back again and again, to become acquainted with all its little details. Then I reflect, draw, make small prototypes, play with them, combine them, and little by little the piece begins to take shape… in my mind at least. There is always an element of surprise in art-making, but even more so, I find, with installations since you do not normally get to see the finished piece before it is actually installed. It is nerve-racking, but also exhilarating.
Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?
In a whole different style and medium, Robert Mapplethorpe.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
Recently, I have been reflecting a lot about the physical (and thus limited) nature of human perception, about the difference between reality and truth. The longing for truth is a profoundly human emotion, and the idea that truth may forever elude us makes our longing that much more poetic, that much more inspiring – makes us, in a way, that much more human.
There are many artists I admire of course, amongst which a handful of former professors and colleagues who have been (and still are) very influential mentors to me: Donald Robertson, Susan Edgerley, Michèle Lapointe, Ito Laila Le François, Michael Rogers, Richard Meitner, and more recently Spanish sculptor Belén Uriel, with whom I have had the pleasure to work for the past three years.
Amélie Girard, August 2020