Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Local artist brings ball wall art and new beauty to the back field

Thanks to local artist Andrew Dick, Vic West students have a bevy of brightly coloured creatures native to our region to bring into games they play on their ball wall. The wall itself was made possible due to a generous grant from The Sutton Group, and this May, Andrew created the mural, which features a background of a mountain range that doubles as the horizontal line used for many of the ball games. This self-taught artist is truly local: he graduated from Esquimalt High School, where he studied computer graphics. PAC Member at Large, Aaren Madden, spoke with Andrew about his career as an artist, what inspires his unique style, and his commitment to inspiring Victoria kids. 

When did you first know you were an artist? 

After I graduated from high school, I knew it was what I wanted to do. But when I was in grade three, I had a teacher who was art-intensive. We would have four drawing sessions a day even if it was just 20 minutes at a time. When I was drawing, that was the first time I felt a kind of meditation. I knew it was something special I couldn’t experience in any other way.
Before: Andrew is ready with colours generously donated by Cloverdale Paint.
Your art practice includes sculpture, photography, video, painting, printmaking, and graffiti art. What led to your interest in such diverse media? 

In grade 10, my neighbour gave me a big book on surrealism [a style of art based not on imitating reality, but on imagination and the workings of the mind]. He saw my drawings and he thought I would like it, and I did. I saw artists that I liked: Max Ernst, Joan Miro, and many others. From there I started learning other types of art and I realized I didn’t want to do one type of art; I wanted to be free to do any medium, anything that popped into my head.  

Besides surrealism, you like art movements like Dada, CoBrA (short for Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam), na├»ve art, graffiti, and street art. These all have in common that they run counter to established ideas about what art ‘should’ be; their works, like yours, are often vivid, colourful and imaginative. Where do you find inspiration? 

In imagination. In everything. I don’t know where it comes from; that’s what’s interesting about it. It’s just being conscious of it and letting it happen. Getting a big idea and starting to sketch or work with something, it starts to become more clear. I can get a vision of a complete sculpture or just start working with it and see where it takes me.

(for images of Andrew’s recent sculptures, click here)
During: Andrew adds local creatures to celebrate our rich biodiversity in his colourful style, freehanding with spray paint.

For about ten years, you have mentored students at local schools like Central Middle School. What’s that like? 

I go into art classes and work on my own projects and if kids have any questions, I love to help them and give them advice and ultimately just encourage them to express themselves and not worry. A lot of kids think ‘oh, I am not good at this kind of art’, but I don’t think there really is a ‘good’ in art because everyone has a different taste and it’s all individual. It’s very inspiring and it’s cool to see that kids have amazing imaginations and are conscious to not get sucked into technology – it’s so encouraging, since everywhere I go I see kids with cellphones in their face, not looking up at the trees and the sky.

What advice do you have for the budding artists at Vic West Elementary? 

One hundred percent believe in yourself and don’t disregard any ideas you have. Don’t stop, keep doing it, and don’t worry about what people say about your art because it can be personal. If it makes you feel good, don’t stop. 

Art can be whatever you want it to be. There should be no rules, and it’s important to have fun with it. Everyone sees things in a different way, and everyone expresses themselves in different ways. You truly can do anything you set your mind to. Believing in yourself is so important.
After: Thumbs up from these Vic West students!

Our most heartfelt thanks go out to Andrew for our beautiful new ball wall. We are so glad he is part of our Vic West Elementary community (and Ms. D’s nephew to boot!). In September, he will be exhibiting a collaborative installation with fellow artist Mel Paget at an art gallery in Portland, Oregon. We wish him all the best and hope he visits often!  

Many thanks also to The Sutton Group and to Cloverdale Paint for their generosity.