Monday, January 31, 2011

Q&A with Ingrid Mida

Ingrid Mida and Lyla Rye

On Saturday afternoon, Lyla Rye moderated the Question and Answer session for loop member Ingrid Mida. Ingrid began the conversation with a brief overview of her series All is Vanity, describing the narrative and sequence of her photographs presenting the journey of grief.

Some of the questions Lyla asked Ingrid during their conversation included the following:

What does All is Vanity mean?
Vanitus Vanitum, or All is Vanity,  is a biblical warning against pursuing earthly accomplishments and pleasures in the face of certain death. While other artists have typically used the still life genre of painting to portray this in their work, I used it to inspire this series of photographic works to portray the journey of grief.

How does Versailles fit into the series?
My interests in the 18th century drew me to reference Versailles because it represents a place of opulence, extravagance and vanity. It is beautiful but it also is a place where very sad events occurred.

Why did you use yourself as a model?
Lyla, you were the one who encouraged me to be more personal with my work and this is about as personal as it gets. I initially approached this as an experiment and wasn't really sure whether it would work out. And I have to admit I was pretty apprehensive about being in the photos and how people (including my family) would react to that. In most of the images, I blurred my face or am looking away. I also should give credit to Cindy Sherman's work. I read an interview with her in the London Times in which she said that her photos were self portraits but not about her. I feel that way about these works.

Why did you chose this dress?
I acquired four dresses from Opera Atelier during their costume sale in the spring. I wasn't really sure how I would use them but thought that they might become an interesting part of an art installation. This dress was the most opulent and extravagant and best fit the theme of this series.

Why are the images black and white even though they are digital images?
I wanted the photos to have a haunting and mystical quality. Making them black and white helped achieve that I think. The black and white presentation makes it less about the dress and more about the mood. 

What aspect of fashion are you inspired by?
I am interested in how clothes can embody memory and identity. In particular, clothes give clues about a person's identity and self image even if they are not aware of it. (To hear more about this topic, watch the clip filmed at the q&a here.)

Do you see this work taking any other form like a book?
The response to this series has made me wonder if the photographs could be turned into a book. People who have seen the work have mentioned that the journey of grief is so rarely presented in art work and I feel that it is an important message that I am conveying here. Someone said it was like seeing the book "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion as an artwork. 

Since this work is about grief and mourning, if you had to dedicate it to one person, who would it be?
I've grieved the loss of my father, my brother Peter, my sister-in-law Carrie, my father-in-law and friends including Brian, Joe, and Diana. If I had to dedicate this work to one person, it would be my brother Peter Masak, who died in a glider accident in 2004. It was the phone call that I received about his plane going down that I think of when I look at the image "Oft Shall Death and Sorrow Reign". It was a phone call I never expected to get given that my brother was a talented pilot. My life changed in that instant and while it was not the first loss I had experienced, it was the most shocking and unexpected loss. And since it was my brother Peter who taught me about working in the darkroom, coming back to photography with this series is deeply meaningful for me. 

To watch the Artsync tv interview that was filmed during Ingrid's opening reception, click the link here or

Ingrid Mida's exhibition All is Vanity continues at loop Gallery through to Sunday, February 13, 2011.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ingrid Mida in Conversation with Lyla Rye

All is Vanity by Ingrid Mida
Digital C-print 2010

There will be a Question and Answer session with Ingrid Mida at Loop Gallery on Saturday, January 29th, 2011 at 3 pm. She will speak about her series All is Vanity which is currently on display at Loop as well as answer questions from the audience and moderator Lyla Rye.

Ingrid Mida discovered photography at age 10 and thereafter spent many hours in the darkroom with her father and older brother. Initially pursuing studies in architecture, she graduated with a BA (Economics) as well as a masters degree from the University of Waterloo (1985). She had a career in finance and publishing before going back to her true passions as an artist. She obtained a Fine Arts Diploma from the Toronto School of Art and also completed the Independent Studies Program there.

Ingrid has exhibited her work in Toronto galleries since 2003. Embracing a variety of mediums including drawing, sculpture, installation and photography in her practice, her work explores the intersection of fashion, art and life. Ingrid also works part-time as an assistant to a curator of fashion and textiles and is author of the widely read blog Fashion is my muse!

Lyla Rye is an installation artist who received a BFA from York University in 1989 and a MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1994. She has exhibited nationally & internationally in video festivals and screenings, art galleries, museums and off-site venues including a bathroom, an elevator, a women's prison, warehouse basements and storefront windows. She recently created a permanent installation as part of Harbourfront’s Artist Garden Series in Toronto. She teaches at Sheridan College, University of Toronto at Mississauga and OCAD University, and was the founding co-ordinator of the Independent Studio Program at the Toronto School of Art. Lyla was Ingrid's advisor during her time in the ISP program at TSA.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview with Artist JJ Lee

Artist JJ Lee opened her show The White Tortoise of Ch'u at loop Gallery on Saturday. This children's story, written by author Fabian Boutilier, is a magical mix of history, folklore and mysticism. JJ Lee presents 10 of the planned 16 illustrations from the as yet unpublished book.

JJ Lee has a BFA from the NSCAD University (1992) and an MFA from York University (1999). A recipient of many awards for her work, Lee is also featured in the Magenta Foundation’s Carte Blanche Volume II: Painting, a survey of contemporary Canadian painters. She currently lives and works in Toronto where she teaches at the OCAD University.

JJ Lee and Ingrid Mida at Loop Gallery on January 22, 2011

In spite of a hectic schedule, JJ found the time to answer my questions about her work.

Ingrid: Have you illustrated a book before?
JJ: No I haven't but always wanted to. This opportunity dropped into my lap just at a time when I was seriously considering illustrating a book, especially since the birth of my daughter three years ago. Children's books have been basically the only genre I've been reading lately!

Ingrid: How does this project differ from what you've exhibited in the past?
JJ: This project is so entirely different than anything I've done before. While I still regard these pieces as my work, these images have a much clearer narrative. In my paintings I try to stay away from the illustrative and go more for the evocative, but in this case I was trying to strike a balance. It was hard!

Ingrid:  What was your working process for the illustrations?
JJ: Generally I would pick a page, and usually an image would come to me. I would start sketching it out, but then, as usual, the image changes as the process develops. There were a couple that started off as for one page but then as the piece developed I would change it to illustrate another space.

Ingrid: Did you use any different mediums in your work?
JJ: This work is on paper, and I used  gouache, acrylic, pencil crayon, conte, collage, photocopy transfer, pencil, and pen and ink (to name a few). I prepared the paper with an absorbent ground to play up texture and for it to receive the water based media better. 

Ingrid:  How did you and Fabian first meet?
JJ: Fabian saw my work in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, a compendium  of Canadian contemporary painters. He then emailed me. When I received his email, my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe my good luck!

Ingrid:  Was it a challenge to work under the direction of an author or did it take the pressure off you?
JJ: The great thing about Fabian and his approach is that he allowed me to do whatever I wanted! He didn't impose a vision onto me; he just provided the text. He was also extremely supportive of my artwork. He trusted me entirely to create work that would suit the story. It definitely was an enjoyable challenge, trying to balance my approach with a story.

Ingrid:  What does your daughter think of your artwork for this project? Did she want to help?
JJ: She likes to go into the studio and say, "Aww, the turtle is crying!".  

Ingrid: Do you think you'd like do more children's book illustrations?
JJ: Absolutely! I would like to do a million more!

Ingrid: What's next for you?
JJ: I wish I knew! I'm at a real crossroads in my career now. One reason why I am interested in illustrating children's books is because it can reach quite a large audience. It's a nice way for a lot of people to enjoy your work instead of occasionally selling one painting to one person. My husband is a kindergarten teacher. I would love to work on something with him. Or perhaps illustrate one of my daughter's stories.

JJ Lee will be at Loop Gallery for the next three Sundays,  January 30th, February 6th and February 13th at 3 pm to do answer questions and for the readings of The White Tortoise of Ch'u by author Fabian Boutilier. 

Don't miss the interview with JJ Lee on Artsync TV, which airs in Toronto on Fridays at 7 pm and Mondays at 7 am on Rogers Cable 10. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn't know about ArtSync until I heard that they were interested in interviewing JJ Lee and me at the opening of our shows last weekend. But after watching Artsync TV on Rogers Cable 10 and taking a closer look at their website, I have to say I'm very excited to have been included.

The ArtSync website and tv show offer a way to stay connected with what's happening in the art scene in Toronto and Canada without leaving the comfort of home.

Here is how they describe themselves: is a dynamic online sanctuary for all those interested and involved in Canadian art: its creators, conspirators, critics, and cheerleaders. We’ve furnished our site with a gallery directory, exhibition shortlist, and event calendar; listings for jobs, submission calls, and other opportunities; reviews, blogs and forums for discussing the latest in the scene; and, in collaboration with our affiliated television program, video footage of recent openings and interviews.  We strive to be focused and selective about the information we distribute so as to provide readers with the most current and vital information about the visual arts in Canada.

ArtSync TV is Toronto’s visual voice for contemporary art.  Grounded in an awe for the art of this city, we’re committed to following, sharing, and celebrating the best of it with our Roger’s Cable and online audiences. The show airs every Friday night at 7 on channel 10, with clips available online shortly thereafter. ArtSync TV covers Toronto’s latest openings and current shows, and profiles the artists and arts professionals who make the city so vital. The artwork featured is accomplished and edgy, significant and timely, and relevant locally, nationally, and internationally.

ArtSync is the product of Link Design and Multimedia, a Toronto-based initiative that has promoted contemporary visual art, video, new media and film since 2001. 

I wish I could remember what I said during the interview. I just hope I sounded somewhat coherent! I think the interviews might air this Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7 pm on Rogers Cable 10. Watch and find out.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Photos from the Opening Reception of JJ Lee and Ingrid Mida at loop

JJ Lee and Ingrid Mida at loop
Photo by Julia Dupuis

Installation shot of The White Tortoise of Ch'u by JJ Lee
Photo by Ingrid Mida

Installation shot of All is Vanity by Ingrid Mida
Photo by Ingrid Mida
The shows of JJ Lee and Ingrid Mida opened yesterday afternoon at loop Gallery. The tv crew from Artsync was on hand to interview both artists for a segment on Artsync tv on Rogers Cable 10 which will also posted on their website.

The gallery will be open today from 1-4 pm and then reopens on Wednesday, January 26 at noon.

The artists will be in attendance at the gallery as follows:

Ingrid Mida: Sunday, January 23 from 1-4 pm, Saturday, January 29 from 1-5 pm with a Q&A moderated by Lyla Rye at 3 pm and Sunday, February 6 from 1-4 pm

JJ Lee: January 23 and February 6 from 3-4 pm plus January 30 and February 13 from 1-4 pm. Readings with Fabian Boutilier will take place at 3 pm.

The loop blog will post interviews with JJ Lee and Fabian Boutilier later this week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The new rule of cool: Gobs of colour by R.M. Vaughan

White Tortoise by JJ Lee 2010, Mixed Media Collage on Paper, 22x30
R.M. Vaughan, Globe&Mail arts reviewer, describes the saturated and vivid hues in five of six art exhibitions he viewed in Toronto this week as the "new rule of cool". Receiving a mention in the sidebar for shows in other venues is loop gallery member JJ Lee's show The White Tortoise of Ch'u which opens today. He describes her as a "sensualist collagist extraordinaire". To read the entire column, click here for the link.

Having seen JJ Lee's work up close during the installation of my own work in the front gallery at loop, I concur with R.M. Vaughan. Who needs a seasonal affective disorder lamp when you can bask in the sunny and happy hues of JJ Lee's beautifully collaged illustrations of Fabian Boutilier's book The White Tortoise of Ch'u?

Join us today for the opening reception at loop Gallery from 2-5 pm. JJ Lee and Fabian Boutilier will also be doing readings and answering questions tomorrow January 23rd at 3 pm as well as January 30th, February 6 and 13 at 3 pm.

Monday, January 17, 2011

JJ Lee and Ingrid Mida at Loop Gallery

loop Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibitions by loop members JJ Lee and Ingrid Mida will open on Saturday, January 22, 2011.

JJ Lee, White Tortoise, mixed media collage on paper, 22"x30", 2010
The White Tortoise of Ch'u is a collaboration between artist JJ Lee and author Fabian Boutilier. The children’s story is a magical mix of history, folklore and mysticism which JJ Lee captures in her illustrations.

JJ Lee has a BFA from the NSCAD University (1992) and an MFA from York University (1999). A recipient of many awards for her work, Lee is also featured in the Magenta Foundation’s Carte Blanche Volume II: Painting, a survey of contemporary Canadian painters. She currently lives and works in Toronto where she teaches at the OCAD University.  Her collaborator, the author of The White Tortoise of Ch'u, is Fabian Boutilier. He is also a poet, a playwright, and a director of avant-garde theatre.

Ingrid Mida, All is Vanity, Digital C-print, limited edition 1 of 5, 28"x34", 2010
All is Vanity is the translation of the latin Vanitus Vanitum, a biblical reference to the transitory nature of life. This theme conveys the vanity of pursuing earthly pleasures and accomplishments in the face of certain death. In this series of photographic self-portraits, Ingrid Mida attempts to convey the emotions of grief and also poses the question of "whether beauty and death are facets of the same experience”.

Ingrid Mida has exhibited her work in Toronto galleries since 2003. Embracing a variety of mediums including drawing, sculpture, installation and photography in her practice, her work explores the intersection of fashion, art and life.  Ingrid also works part-time as an assistant to a curator of fashion and textiles and is author of the widely read blog Fashion is my muse! 

Please join the artists and author at their opening receptions on Saturday, January 22nd from 2-5 pm.

Learn more about JJ Lee’s and Ingrid Mida’s work at loop:
Readings  with artist JJ Lee and Author Fabian Boutilier; on January 23, 30, February 6 and 13, at 3pm
Question and Answer with Ingrid Mida on Saturday January 29th at 3pm, facilitated by Lyle Rye.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Photos from the Holiday Small Works Salon

There is less than a week to see the diverse body of work presented by loop members and guest artists at  the loop Holiday Salon. The show runs until Sunday, January 16, 2011.

Back Gallery

Front Gallery

Selections from the Holiday Salon

Selections from the Holiday Salon

Selections from the Holiday Salon

Looking to the street