Interview with Mary Garoutte
1. What is your Afterglow 2018 project called? Could you describe? What is its inspiration?
The title of my project is 'Blind Drawing'. This is an interactive project where the public is invited to participate. I will be drawing participants portraits using the 'blind contour' method. This unconventional style of drawing is implemented by the artist not looking at the paper when drawing, which creates whimsical, interesting, often humerous and bizarre results. Each participant will sit down to have a 5 minute portrait drawn using mixed media. Others are invited to pick up a pencil, pastel stick or marker and draw a friend or themselves as well. This all-ages project is fun for the public, and is something that allows the whole family to get involved in. The idea behind the project beyond the mere fact that interactive projects are exciting and good for community, is also the idea of not taking art too seriously or oneself too seriously. I love blind contour drawing because it immediately takes the pressure off oneself to create anything contingent on performance or technical expectations. The participant has a level of control removed from them, and this vulnerability brings everyone down to the same level. Surprisingly, the method encourages more creativity and surprisingly, more interesting results that challenges the conventional standards of what art-making is and how it is viewed.
2. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live, and your creativity.
I have been artistic my whole life (since I was a youngster). I am originally from Mesa. Arizona, and have lived in Nova Scotia since the age of seven. I am a visual artist living in Halifax, NS (Downtown Dartmouth, actually). I am primarily an oil painter, but often work in mixed media. I graduated from NSCAD Univeristy (BFA 2004) and since then have been working full-time in the arts community. My primary work is arts administration at a historic gallery in Halifax, and where I also head the art restoration department. On the side, I teach art privately and through public workshops, and also am a live event painter for public and private events. I am represented at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax, NS.
3. How do you feel Afterglow makes an impact on Bridgewater?
I believe the impact a larger-scale, public cultural event such as Afterglow has on Bridgewater is considerable and effective, in that it shows that Bridgewater is not only a town that is alive and well, but also is worthy of such an event - one which is comparible to any reputable cultural event in the province. It reflects to the public that Bridgewater and the surrounding area has a vibrant, active artistic community and has a strong place in the arts in the South Shore (and not just the historically artistic hubs, such as Mahone Bay & Lunenburg, for example). Bridgewater deserves an arts festival, and I believe Afterglow is a budding, emerging-on-the-scene event in Nova Scotia.
4. Why have you chosen to take part in this year's festival?
Why I chose to participate again this year for Afterglow is purely for the fun and energy the festival has, and also to support the town, as Bridgewater is a town where I grew-up in. I had a terrific experience last year with my interactive mural, and the public was very responsive and I think they had a lot of fun. I enjoy that Afterglow is still a younger art festival than for instance, the Nocturne Festival in Halifax. Because Afterglow is still a young(er) festival, there is something that still feels magical about it - unadulterated, if I may. Sometimes this vibrancy gets lost in the older, more established cultural events in the province. It is easy for a larger, more populated town or city to sometimes take for granted what it has.
5. What are you looking forward to most in this year's festival?
What I look forward to again this year is being able to see some of the same faces as last year and meet new people. There are always valueable connections and relationships that are built in these experiences, which I look forward to. I also am curious to see what projects arise this year, as they seem to be very diverse and different each time.
Interview and blog compiled by Jordan Beck Crouse