Metamorphic Reflections

 

2017 – 2018

Dimensions: 1′ x 1′

Glass Paints on Mirrors

 

Creating art has always been a way for me to understand the various facets that make up our identities. In previous works, I have explored themes of identity, individuality and community through cultural symbols and the Canadian landscape. In recent works, I have worked with light to create movement in still images. This has resulted in several series of paintings, drawings and light paintings. In the last year, I have gotten more involved in my community as an artist and educator, and have started to collaborate with community members to create art. This has strengthened my belief in art’s power to break through social isolation and overcome the ethnocultural boundaries that divide us. Metamorphic Reflections is a series of portraiture paintings inspired by stories of strangers in which I continue to play with light and movement while exploring themes of identity, individuality and community.

Each painting is started through a conversation. Since the intent is to break through socially constructed stereotypes, I always speak to the person closest to me. By leaving who I engage with to chance, I am able to deconstruct my own biases towards other people’s appearance. After gaining their consent to be photographed, the question I usually ask them is “can you tell me about a time when you felt important?”. I ask this question because based on personal experience, public spaces, where no one wants to make eye contact, often zap people of their uniqueness and importance. Through these conversations, I want to remind my subjects of their significance.

The photographs taken during these interactions capture the subjects’ expressions as they speak and serve as inspirations for the paintings. The life-sized portraits are painted on mirrors and aim to capture the subjects’ presence and aura as they share their stories. Unlike the quickly taken photographs, every element of the painting is deliberate. While the photographs are necessary to record the spontaneous interactions, the paintings allow me to spend more time with the subjects and delve deeper into the distinctiveness and the mystery of the individual faces. The photographed individuals remain engaged in the project as they are updated on their painting’s progress and invited to exhibitions.

Each painting is a step towards a series of installations I want to create in gallery and community spaces. I want to fill up these spaces floor to ceiling so that when attendees walk in, they are surrounded by mirrors – but instead of seeing themselves infinitely, they see other’s people’s portraits changing because of their reflections. Through this installation, I hope to have viewers think about the similarities between themselves and the painted individuals, why it is so uncomfortable to connect with people in public spaces, and what can we do to overcome this discomfort and the social isolation it causes.

This project is funded by Ontario Arts Council.