Can you give us a general description your artistic practice?
I’m an artist that is interested in the permanence of disposable plastic products and materials. I use salvaged plastic to make installations, sculptures and collages that examine the connections and consequences between patterns of consumption and production and environmental harm.
What is your primary area of research (or research-creation) and what sparked your interest in it?
Sculpture and plastics pollution are my main areas of interest. In addition to my art practice, I also am part of an interdisciplinary plastics pollution research group. We’ve been working on ways the arts can work with science to generate complex and multi-layered visualizations of hard-to-see environmental issues.
I became interested in this when I first found myself looking through an advertisement on the window of a city bus. I was stunned that an ad was on the window, given how much it obstructed my view while I was in public space. I became very interested in this capitalist drive to colonize new ad spaces and all the baggage, issues, precedents and consequences that are folded into these mindsets and systems. I then started working almost exclusively with salvaged advertisements, which led me to my current research focus of physical and chemical plastic pollution in the environment.
Tell us about some work of art that you read, saw, or experienced this summer.
I saw two really wonderful works at the SFMOMA: the first was by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno and it was called Cloud Cities Thermodynamics of Self-Assembly (2016). It acts as a kind of model for a levitating city, and the sculpture itself levitates by using some basic principles of thermodynamics (the air inside the sculpture is warmer than the air outside the sculpture). It’s remarkable! He’s also done large-scale projects with salvaged plastics bags that I’m very interested in. In the same museum visit, I saw a very touching and poignant project by artist Emily Jacir called Where We Come From (2001-03). Jacir has an American passport and so she offered to travel on behalf of exiled Palestinians to perform tasks that they wished they could do in their homeland. The range included paying someone’s phone bill because they weren’t permitted to travel to the district where the payment office was located; giving a loved one a hug; eating a favourite dessert; and playing soccer with a kid.
Why did the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia seem like a good fit for you?
For so many reasons! The faculty, the facilities, the strength of the student work coming out of the program and of course Montreal. I was also very excited to learn about the Faculty of Fine Arts’ interest in developing their own environmental sustainability, as it is an ethic I strive for in my own practice.
What was the best advice you ever received from a mentor as an artist or a scholar?
There’s always a way to do it, you just have to figure out how.
What classes are you teaching this year?
Second, third and foruth year sculpture classes