Visiting sculptor advises artists to make what they want

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – For more than a decade, Veronika Horlik worked in the centre of devastation.

Veronika Horlik spoke to the artists in residence and other members of the community during a talk at the New Glasgow Library on Thursday. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS

As a seasonal tree planter for Brinkman and Associates Reforestation Ltd., she replaced forests that had been cut down, and sometimes further depleted by fire in northern Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

“It’s the most striking environment I’ve ever worked in – these burn landscapes. Because of the extreme of what’s going on, but also there’s a dichotomy of regeneration and destruction, and it’s a doubly devastated landscape.”

It inspired the Montreal artist and NSCAD University grad’s large-scale sculpture series BURN BABY BURN.

Horlik spoke about that series, and her previous work in functional ceramics and still life paintings during an artist talk at the New Glasgow Library on Thursday prior to the closing exhibition for the 2014 NSCAD-New Glasgow Community Studio Residency.

Her sculpting and painting began to evolve into ceramic murals, in part so she could continue with all of her passions during a very busy lifestyle of teaching, parenting, painting, selling ceramics and tree planting.

“It allowed me to be a sculptor, but also work in two-dimensional,” she said.

Horlik’s art was bred from her mother’s artistic teaching style and her father’s work as a mechanic.

Her mother used to teach kindergarten to the children of Japanese immigrants who couldn’t speak English or French. She used art and music to connect them to the curriculum.

“That was something they could all do, and she didn’t have to speak Japanese. And she would teach them language through making things.”

Though she left work, she continued teaching that way as a parent to her three daughters, Horlik explained.

“If we weren’t in the house making things with my mom, we were outside in the backyard, working on something, holding the welding rods with my dad under the car as you fix something, or building things with his actual tools. We never knew what plastic, toy tools were.”

Though the work Horlik is doing now is still new to her, she’s been a part of the art world for many years and understands the pressures new artists are up against.

She noted how much work visual artists have to do simply to be able to be an artist, applying for shows, grants and teaching jobs.

“Before you get one show, you’ve applied to 19 in a year.”

Despite the inevitable stack of refusals an artist will receive, she said young artists shouldn’t give up.

“That can be kind of depressing,” she said about receiving refusal letters all at the same time. “I usually tell myself I can be really bummed out for two days, but then I have to get over it and start working on the next proposal.”

Though she admits it’s not ‘money-making advice,’ she said artists should make what they want to make, rather than what they think galleries would like to show.

“You won’t earn a living, but I feel like I’m being honest in my work and when I talk about my work, it’s not fake at all. That part feels good.”

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Organizations: Brinkman and Associates Reforestation, NSCAD University, New Glasgow Library

Geographic location: Northern Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia Montreal

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