Art by Konu Community Spotlight
We recently met with artist and sculptor Alison Galvan in Toronto, Canada to talk about her artistic passions.
What inspired you to begin your recent sculpture work?
It wasn't until the pandemic happened.
…this sort of idea, I guess of wanting to feel uplifted, of wanting to rise up rather than feeling so stressed. I own a restaurant, the pandemic shut me down. As we all know that the tension, the stress…what's going to happen?
It was so much and I really didn't know what to do. I don't know how but I have to do something. I'd find a way.
And so, I was like: people talk about this meditation stuff. I gotta try this meditation thing; and it was something that I had never really done before and certainly was not expert at.
I thought, well, I've got to give something a try, because I have to have to relieve the stress. I have to bring it down a
notch. So I started trying to do meditation; which is ironic, because it was a real work to to achieve and on some levels was distressing.
But this one particular guided meditation, I was trying said: when you're relaxed, picture yourself as you were as a young child, when you were really happy when you were like no stress. Just like: life was great.
Picture when you were at peace with yourself and imagine you're really happy.
I remember that moment: a mental picture came into my head of when I was just a little thing, you know, probably five years old.
I had this little polka dot bathing suit and little Disney floaties on my arm when I popped out of a pool. And my family
actually, captured a picture of me. So I just had this vision of myself as this little five-year-old and it was like oh my God, yeah I remember that moment and I was I was really happy.
I was really happy and had not a care in the world; and that was the image that came to mind during that meditation.
And in the meditation when that image came up, I started to laugh because I remembered that smile and I laughed. And with this vision it was like:
“We don't have to take this all so seriously. Like my goodness, we're doing it to ourselves, like its just distress were bringing. Importantly, we just don't have to take it all, so seriously. And it was like: the light bulb ding went off in my head.
When I had that moment I started thinking of where I wanted my artwork to go, and the memory of the seniors coming out and being happy were just light and easy, and having fun, and enjoying life.
And it sort of came together. And I wanted to start sculpting these figures and telling their story of fun and loving life.
Do the characters in your mobiles have their own personalities?
When I am sculpting, I definitely find that each one starts to take on its own little persona. Like, oh, there's, you know, Bob I got to have Bob, and, you know. Here's Agnes over here, she's jumping and doing a cannonball.
And so, they do have personalities to me when, when I'm “dressing them” if you will. And their outfits, to me, go with their personality, like, their fashions,
whatever their fashion is, goes with their personality. And, and has to fit who they are.
We express ourselves and define ourselves by our fashions that we choose. You know, how we how we do our hair; what shoes we wear. Not every woman wears leopard print or cheetah print. That really says a lot about who they are. Bob over here is wearing almost a thong, you know, not every dude rocks a thong.
Is honest self expression a central theme in your work as an artist?
With my work, that's really the underlying theme I want to express: honesty. Honesty with ourselves about who we are and, really living that honesty.
That's why I like this piece in particular about seniors. Two ages really speak to honesty: children because they don't know any different. If they don't like something they'll tell you and it's wonderful.
Similarly seniors are now under a stage in their life where they're done with it man. Like they're like this and this is me, this is what I like and this is what I don't like and this is who I am and they're kind of over it and I think it's a wonderful thing.
We all go through our own evolutionary process to get to that. So and each of us at different stages of Life achieve that. But, that's instantly, my quest in life: having the confidence to just really be me, whatever that may be. And whether someone likes it; doesn't like it whatever that is. It's okay. I'm just being me.
What are your thoughts on the way society views honest self expression?
I think in today today's world, everybody's on eggshells, especially with our social media. Everybody on eggshell is like: “I don't want to offend anybody”; like political correctness. It's like there's so many things to be on edge regarding what am I allowed to say; and how can I say it so I don't offend anybody, but, still get my ideas across.
Obviously it's good to be sensitive of other people's feelings but I think we overshot. I think we've gone to the other extreme and because of that, we're almost losing ourselves.
Part of the reason I didn't want to create a sculpture that was just a flat surface, non-moving, because I think we are seen from all sides. The way we move and the way that we behave and interact with each other, is part of our life.
And so in doing it this way; I kept that sense of life, that sense of movement. And to be seen from all directions, you know, and to be okay with that.
Does the concept of intersectionality impact your work? Can any part of it be singularly defined?
I think trying to always define a person or define a thing or object, or whatever is like: why? Why does it have to be one thing only? Like why?
I mean, I'm a sculptor, I'm a painter. You know, one might consider this installation.
Whatever someone's view of themselves is: that is personal. And honestly, I think for me it’s about, respect. Personal respect.
I had someone write to me and they were very upset. They were angry, very angry regarding this piece. They were very upset that I was taking seniors and treating them in an undignified and mocking and denigrating fashion. They were very upset by that.
And I had to really think on that, you know. That was certainly never my intent but am I this person? I had to sort of take a step back and go: Okay, well hold on a second. I respect that person's opinion, but I also need to respect my opinion and where I was coming from.
Certainly, it was not one of pointing and laughing. It was it was mockery in the sense of how serious we take ourselves but not mockery in the sense of oh, look at you, you're fat or your boobs are tacky. It was not mockery in that sense because that's being human.
So I really did have to take a step back; but I do think so much of it is about respect for self and being honest with ourselves and honest with each other.
I had to hear this person and understand their viewpoint. But also, I think they had to understand mine too. So I think it has to be a mutual respect.
We can't take on everybody else's stuff, you know. I did not mean it that way. I wrote back saying: I'm sorry you felt that way but that was never my intention and I have to honor what was my intention, and what makes me happy.
Creating pieces like this makes me happy. I apologize if you were hurt by that. Certainly was not my intention. We seem to be so offended these days, and I think it's such a shame. That's where I come back with saying: we never had to take it all so seriously, you know. Everything is perspective.
You can choose to be angry, or you can choose to be like: Oh my God, that's going to be me in 10 years or gee sounds like me now, isn't that kind of funny.
It’s perspective and making a choice. Right now I think too often were choosing to be offended when we could maybe choose not to be.
How do you think social media and the internet has influenced the art world in recent years?
The internet is a wonderful thing, you know, it's obviously a fabulous tool and it's wonderful. But I also think the world of social media has taken things where it's gone to the ridiculous.
Because of the anonymity one has via social media the ability to express one's opinion anonymously and spew, whatever vitriol or whatever good you want to the world is available for everybody.
On the one hand, it can be great. You know, I literally have to, like, put the phone down, like, put it down because I think there's also way too much, apologizing.
Live, your life, be a good person, you know, follow your path, whatever that path may be. For me it's creativity.
Whatever your path may be follow it; but I think if we live with honesty and live with respect for ourselves and for others, Let's just laugh about it. Let's just laugh and be happy.
Now that your recent sculpture work is award-winning: what is next?
I think I could probably speak for all artists: ideas are not the problem. Creativity is not the problem. At times it is almost like there's too many ideas bombarding you all at once.
Any award or recognition, or sale of a piece, or anything like that obviously absolutely inspires.
It's exciting. It's rewarding and it definitely makes you want to create more and go forth and do more. When it comes to further pieces, my problem is that I run out of room.
But yes I'm inspired to go on and make more mobiles. So that's the direction that I really want to continue with it because I love the life that lives in them with their movement. And I like that you can tell a story in each piece and I really like to be able to share a story with people and laugh and have fun.
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