Ottawa artist on that hat: ‘The spirit of Michael Jackson visited me himself’


Artist Christina Lovisa in her studio.


Bruce Deachman / Postmedia

Spotlight is a weekly have a look at some of the people who find themselves half of the Ottawa space’s arts group. This week, Bruce Deachman talks with visible artist Christina Lovisa. Visit christinalovisa.com for extra data.

“Art was in all probability a lifelong ardour for me, however squashed in highschool by my steering counsellor, who mentioned ‘You’re by no means going to make any cash as an artist.’ I used to be in Deep River, which is the place the scientists who work on the nuclear plant in Chalk River dwell. Everybody was science-based there, so when someone excels in arts, they assume ‘Huh, how do we get this person into a science field where they can straighten themselves out?’ So the steering counsellor says ‘We need to get you into a science field that is somewhat artistic,’ so I grew to become a dental hygienist. That’s the place they pushed me, and I did that for about seven years. And then I awoke and mentioned, ‘What’s going on right here?’

“But it was one of my sufferers who instructed me she was taking artwork lessons now that she was retired. And each time she got here in, I’d ask her extra questions on her artwork. I noticed I cared extra about her artwork than her tooth, and that’s once I thought, ‘I should explore this art thing.’ I wanted to do one thing totally different. So I began taking lessons.

“I work loads in encaustic portray, a more-than-2,000-year-old technique of portray. It began out as a waterproofing technique for boats and different water vessels utilizing wax. And the Greeks found that in the event that they added some pigments, some color, to the wax itself, then they might make designs on the boats and make them look actually engaging. And to stabilize the wax, they added this tree sap, which is named damar resin, which, when it hardens, prevents the wax from melting within the solar. The Italians began utilizing it as fresco paint, and it grew to become referred to as the outside paint.

“I like historical past in objects. I like issues that inform a narrative. Things that are a bit worn, issues that have paper peeling off them. I like that sense of historical past. There’s a bit decay in all my stuff; it’s actually engaging to me. And in encaustic, the bottom of the paint is evident, so you’ll be able to see by it. By including pigment, you’ll be able to regulate the light-fastness of the paint, and what I like is beginning with a background of one thing that had some historical past, and by including wax you’ll be able to see by little glimpses, nearly like little home windows into what’s going on within the again. And to me, that thriller creates an attention-grabbing sense of decay and of historical past, inside a portray that will be very new.

“One of my passions is making samples for various retailers. I work for a publishing firm and a licensing firm, so a pattern for them could be me making one thing that I feel the business world would need to purchase and hold above their sofa — that variety of factor. So it’s usually extra décor than it’s advantageous artwork.

“So I’ll make a pattern for them, normally one thing small — 6”x6” or 6”x8” — and in the event that they prefer it and might it, that’s what they’ll do; it, enlarge it and print it.


Ottawa artist Christina Lovisa designed this fedora for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE present. She estimates she’s made near 2,000 of them for the reason that present opened.

Courtesy of Christina Lovisa.

“But sampling for a corporation like Cirque du Soleil was totally different in that they’re show-specific. They wished me to develop one thing for the Michael Jackson ONE present. That was my first contract with them. They had requested for a hand-crafted memento to be offered within the reward store, and I used to be making an attempt to assume of all types of issues, and that is the place I actually imagine that the spirit of Michael Jackson visited me himself.

“Normally my milieu is portray, so I saved pondering in phrases of portray. But I used to be driving down the freeway and, identical to watching a YouTube video, I truly watched this fedora, which has change into one of their best-selling objects for the reason that inception of the present. I watched the development of it, I knew the supplies, I knew all the things — a lot so that I truly turned the automobile round and went trying to find the components so I may begin placing this hat collectively.

“When it was executed, I confirmed it to Cirque. There had been 15 artists that had been competing, and as soon as they noticed the hat, they only cherished it. It had a bit digicam on it, and exploding pixels throughout it. A mixed-media piece. They tried to get me to do different renditions — do it in white, do it in pink — however none of the others took off. Just the one that was proven to me in that little video in my head.

“They requested me, ‘How many can you make? Do you have a factory?’ And I used to be like, ‘No, I’m only one particular person.’ So I truly set limits for the way typically they’ll order, and the portions, and so they have been ordering that hat constantly for the reason that inception, which I feel is six or seven years now. I feel I’ve made near 2,000 hats now, each by hand. I feel I may make them in my sleep.”

After right this moment, Spotlight goes on a summer time hiatus. Fear not; it is going to return within the fall.

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