CREATOR TO CREATOR I

A PROJECT 40 COLLECTIVE’S BLOG SERIES | 2017

Creator to Creator developed out of my own interest in learning more about the processes and thoughts of the incredibly talented Asian.Canadian creators in the community. It also began with my realization at how intertwined the various artistic worlds are, as illustrators find inspirations from musicians, musicians collaborate with poets, and poets become performance artists.

Each month, I invited two Asian.Canadian creators to talk about their artistic process, and introduce us to their “favourite” Asian.Canadian creator who engages in a different artistic medium. For the latter, who they are asked to choose was intentional—if the month featured a musician and a writer, I would ask the musician to choose their “favourite” writer, and the writer, their “favourite” musician. I wanted to emphasize the ongoing exchange happening in the creative community. This portion was in a handwritten format, inspired by The Selby’s Q&A, which I used to adore reading during my fashion-obsession days. I had the pleasure of featuring 11 diverse group of artists.

I re-started in 2019, which you can view here.

2017: Casey Mecija, Takatsu, Rudrapriya Rathore, Wenting Li, Haaris Qadri, Ness Lee, Christie Wong, Aaron Jan, Jennifer Hosein, Doyali Islam, Flora Shum


What are some questions or themes you are currently exploring through your creative work?   Currently, I’m thinking about methods of abstraction as a tool for expressing diasporic experience. I want to think about what it would mean to step away from knowable and easily consumable representations. How do methods of abstraction (in music and visual art) forge intimacies with queer, diasporic experience?

What are some questions or themes you are currently exploring through your creative work?

Currently, I’m thinking about methods of abstraction as a tool for expressing diasporic experience. I want to think about what it would mean to step away from knowable and easily consumable representations. How do methods of abstraction (in music and visual art) forge intimacies with queer, diasporic experience?

Where do you get your inspiration to write? Or rather, what excites you about writing?   You know that feeling after you watch a really good movie or finish a good book? The sense that you’re not sure exactly where you are, which world you’re in–or whether your reality will ever be the same again? That’s it.

Where do you get your inspiration to write? Or rather, what excites you about writing?

You know that feeling after you watch a really good movie or finish a good book? The sense that you’re not sure exactly where you are, which world you’re in–or whether your reality will ever be the same again? That’s it.

 
When I look through your collection of illustrations, people – specifically female figures – seem to be an ongoing motif. Can you tell us more about this?   I love drawing the human figure because it has so much expressive potential – for movement, communication, abstraction. It is immediately arresting and elicits emotional response and identification from the viewer (and from the artist). I am also a particular fan of drawing the female body.  Female  is a broadly encompassing term, & I am drawn to women’s bodies both aesthetically and conceptually. I feel like women are full of stories, and so often we’re subjects of the gazes of others, not necessarily sympathetically.

When I look through your collection of illustrations, people – specifically female figures – seem to be an ongoing motif. Can you tell us more about this?

I love drawing the human figure because it has so much expressive potential – for movement, communication, abstraction. It is immediately arresting and elicits emotional response and identification from the viewer (and from the artist). I am also a particular fan of drawing the female body. Female is a broadly encompassing term, & I am drawn to women’s bodies both aesthetically and conceptually. I feel like women are full of stories, and so often we’re subjects of the gazes of others, not necessarily sympathetically.

What’s your experience engaging in film production in Canada, specifically Toronto, as a film student and a filmmaker?   As a filmmaker studying at York, I managed to make a short film that consisted of an all Asian cast, carrying themes and dialogue that only the South Asian community would fully understand. I’m happy I could make it how I wanted to without having to change certain elements of the film to please others. It’s hard to talk about my experience in the industry though because I don’t think I’ve stepped into it yet – but I’m hoping to see/make honest representation of Asian-Canadians in Canadian film in the coming years.

What’s your experience engaging in film production in Canada, specifically Toronto, as a film student and a filmmaker?

As a filmmaker studying at York, I managed to make a short film that consisted of an all Asian cast, carrying themes and dialogue that only the South Asian community would fully understand. I’m happy I could make it how I wanted to without having to change certain elements of the film to please others. It’s hard to talk about my experience in the industry though because I don’t think I’ve stepped into it yet – but I’m hoping to see/make honest representation of Asian-Canadians in Canadian film in the coming years.

 
How did these figures develop? I’m also intrigued at how these bodies often express intimate emotions – what do they signify to you?   At first, with these figures, I never had size in mind in a literal sense of body image. I just found that the more feeling I had with these figures the more space they took up in the composition. Kind of as if your feelings were to take form into a figure— feeling heavy sadness might be something that takes up the whole canvas.

How did these figures develop? I’m also intrigued at how these bodies often express intimate emotions – what do they signify to you?

At first, with these figures, I never had size in mind in a literal sense of body image. I just found that the more feeling I had with these figures the more space they took up in the composition. Kind of as if your feelings were to take form into a figure— feeling heavy sadness might be something that takes up the whole canvas.

Your works, especially your paintings are very expressive in texture and colours – What role does colour have in your art? What do you want your work to say to other people?   Texture is essential in my livelihood. I crave it in all things, such as food creations, musical melodies, lyrics and poetry, and tree bark on my skin. I see colour as different smells and tastes, but also as different stories and moments. I like to say that I paint with the intuition of my palette and paints; as if they are taking me on a magical and whimsical ride through the realms in my mind.

Your works, especially your paintings are very expressive in texture and colours – What role does colour have in your art? What do you want your work to say to other people?

Texture is essential in my livelihood. I crave it in all things, such as food creations, musical melodies, lyrics and poetry, and tree bark on my skin. I see colour as different smells and tastes, but also as different stories and moments. I like to say that I paint with the intuition of my palette and paints; as if they are taking me on a magical and whimsical ride through the realms in my mind.

 
Is there a particular message you wish to present through your plays? What are questions or themes you’re currently exploring or interested in exploring more?   I’m interested in exploring Asian Canadians as not paragons. I love my theatre dirty, filled with contradictions. I think I want to present the Asian Canadian body as flawed, and full of malice, hate, greed and sorrow as well as all of the positive attributes. I think that’s the next step for equity in narratives – discovering the flaws in our own community, where the racial tensions lie and what the stigmas that we generate within our own circles are.

Is there a particular message you wish to present through your plays? What are questions or themes you’re currently exploring or interested in exploring more?

I’m interested in exploring Asian Canadians as not paragons. I love my theatre dirty, filled with contradictions. I think I want to present the Asian Canadian body as flawed, and full of malice, hate, greed and sorrow as well as all of the positive attributes. I think that’s the next step for equity in narratives – discovering the flaws in our own community, where the racial tensions lie and what the stigmas that we generate within our own circles are.

You describe your paintings as displaying tensions of “   ugliness and beauty, terror and pleasure, the erotic and repulsion.   ” What does painting, or the process of painting, signify to you?   Painting, I can pull the pain out of me. Try to make sense of things. Try to fix things. Make people look and think and maybe act.

You describe your paintings as displaying tensions of “ugliness and beauty, terror and pleasure, the erotic and repulsion.” What does painting, or the process of painting, signify to you?

Painting, I can pull the pain out of me. Try to make sense of things. Try to fix things. Make people look and think and maybe act.

 
Where do you find inspiration for your writing?   I write when something – such as lived experience, memory, or a global situation – feels urgent enough. In my body, this urgency can feel like things pressing in on me, at my heart. I wish I knew what the ‘things’ pressing in on me were. It doesn’t feel like hands – at least, not in the way we understand ‘hands’. So, it is a mystery. Every time I write, it feels like a mysterious process. It also feels like a return – a renewed sense of focus and purpose. Further still, it feels like starting from nothing and relearning my craft.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

I write when something – such as lived experience, memory, or a global situation – feels urgent enough. In my body, this urgency can feel like things pressing in on me, at my heart. I wish I knew what the ‘things’ pressing in on me were. It doesn’t feel like hands – at least, not in the way we understand ‘hands’. So, it is a mystery. Every time I write, it feels like a mysterious process. It also feels like a return – a renewed sense of focus and purpose. Further still, it feels like starting from nothing and relearning my craft.

What are some challenges about running a small studio like Paperhouse?   I think the biggest challenges I personally had to face in running a small studio is the mental energy to continue. We get asked all the time “Why do you do what you do? What’s the point?”…It feels like it’s your job to justify and convince people why the arts and culture matter and explain how it affects them personally. People don’t see that everyone has a role to play here and it should not be just us on this boat getting pushed to jump ship. It’s a big challenge for me to practice self-care and restore that mental energy that can drain you.

What are some challenges about running a small studio like Paperhouse?

I think the biggest challenges I personally had to face in running a small studio is the mental energy to continue. We get asked all the time “Why do you do what you do? What’s the point?”…It feels like it’s your job to justify and convince people why the arts and culture matter and explain how it affects them personally. People don’t see that everyone has a role to play here and it should not be just us on this boat getting pushed to jump ship. It’s a big challenge for me to practice self-care and restore that mental energy that can drain you.