andrea elena, Artist

I am perpetually inspired by the words of Yoko Ono "I thought art was a verb, rather than a noun" because for me, art is at all times an experiential process - not just for the observer, but for the producer as well...

My Artist Journey

Almost all aspects of human life "takes a village", and being an artist is no exception really. I've been fortunate to grow up around people who did art, and could teach me their trade secrets. But my journey to becoming a watercolour artist wasn't a straight or conventional one...

I didn't jump right into art school, albeit, much to my chagrin. I spent years on the journey of a conventional, "get a job first and do art after" mindset of my well meaning immigrant parents, who subscribed to the hallmark sentiment which largely defines my generation.

I have a BA Honours in Linguistics with a minor in Psychology as well as an MA in Discourse Studies, also a graduate certificate in Corporate Communications, and to top it all off, I also have a PhD (abd) in Medical Anthropology where I started my fieldwork in researching food and health - until one day I simply couldn't live that lifestyle anymore and I left academia to pursue art, full time, professionally.

I am inspired by nature;
the plethora of textures, states, and interconnections.

I am an Ottawa-based, POC, emerging full-time artist. While I am largely self-taught, I was immersed in art creation (primarily ceramics and drawing) through my family, many of whom were practicing artists. I have also attended Algonquin College for photography, and the Ottawa School of Art for watercolour. Although most of my professional career has been built on my watercolour painting, I have recently transitioned into textured acrylic work (mid to large size on wood cradle board). Inspired by my Belgian heritage, I began a collection entitled “Dantelle de Dierickx”, which is an exploration of lace, delicacy, and expression of the “feminine” as means to honor my matrilineal relationships.

As an artist, I have struggled with the creation of art, as matters of 'waste', 'sustainability', and 'environmentalism', are objectives I continue to grapple with in the production of art. My watercolour painting process centered on wildlife advocacy, and I aspired to make art with a low waste, high ethics, informed ethos. This meant using vegan paper, responsibly-mined pigments, and mediums that did not include petroleum (e.g., bees wax encaustic, wood boards, and organic wheat glue). Informed by my doctoral studies in Medical Anthropology and Food Studies, which heavily involved the ethics of food systems, I was driven to produce art that would leave a low carbon footprint beyond my own lifetime. While this pursuit has remained important to me, it did come with several opportunity costs, chiefly of which was that I felt very limited in the types of art I could create and the types of processes I could learn from. I have elected to put explore an expressive style (still mindful of using a low waste creation process), and hone my artistic voice.

Art is creation that extends, warps, or challenges the aesthetic presuppositions of the perceiver.

Art in Action

Today you will find me either at my studio or teaching at Wallack's in Ottawa.

I also have had the unique privilege of becoming the organizers of Ottawa's Wall Candy Art Expos and Events, which keeps me busy when I'm not painting or teaching.

Some of my other recent community-engaged art involvements have included:

• Curating the Exploration Gallery for the Canadian Association for Food Studies conference for two-years consecutively

•  Facilitating a workshop for CBC Ottawa's Make Change workshops series, which is part of their Project Give fundraising campaign to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank.