“A Day in the Life” with Toronto Artist Carrie Chisholm

Carrie Chisholm knew from a young age that she wanted to be an artist – at the age of three she drew portraits of her parents. Part of a large family, with two brothers and a sister, she believes her art instincts hail from her paternal grandmother, whom unfortunately she never had a chance to meet as she passed away before Carrie was born.

This knowledge of becoming an artist propelled Carrie throughout high school. Eventually she graduated from OCAD University. She went on to spend a year in Florence participating in OCAD’s foreign exchange program, studying and travelling throughout Europe. It was while travelling through Austria and the Czech Republic over the winter of 1999/2000, visiting the Belvedere Palace and Egon Schiele Art Centrum that she became inspired by the Fin de Siecle period and its affiliated artists, whose concerns she sees as being mirrored in our current climate of uncertainty and excess. She also took cues in the development of her practice from the modernist works located at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, where she completed an internship over the
following summer.

Her work employs the use of blind contour drawing. Normally a means of observational drawing – an exercise taught in art school to train eye-hand coordination – she had never seen anyone use it as part of their main process of professional practice and decided to use it as the basis of her pieces, as a means of creating distortion in the spirit of the Surrealists. Armed with this direction, Carrie completed her Master of Fine Art at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, where she further transformed her practice from painting to three dimensional pieces, using acetate and working with the quality of light and reflection.

Returning to Toronto, Carrie presented a solo show at the AWOL gallery on Ossington Street during Nuit Blanche, where she suspended an acetate chandelier in front of the gallery, becoming a beacon of light for what was then a darker, seedier Ossington Street. Her work has also been featured at the Drake Hotel and at the Aqua Art Fair in Miami.

Most recently she was part of the first artist-in-residence program at the newly opened MOCA on Sterling Street in Toronto’s Junction Triangle neighbourhood and is currently showing her work in a pop-up group exhibition, organized by AWOL Gallery. Like her art, Carrie is a free-flowing, energetic and stimulating person. She is a huge advocate for community capacity building in the arts sector and constantly immerses herself in causes that contribute to artistic infrastructure development. Just as she is inspired by arts and culture communities at home and abroad, she constantly inspires creativity in everyone lucky enough to know her.

-Shannon Murphy, Freelance Writer & Friend

Carrie Chisholm - By day, during the week I work at a local architecture firm in business development and marketing, listening to music helps me concentrate.
Carrie Chisholm – By day, during the week I work at a local architecture firm in business development and marketing, listening to music helps me concentrate.
Carrie Chisholm - By night I often attend industry events. Sometime I even plan them.
Carrie Chisholm – By night I often attend industry events. Sometime I even plan them.
Carrie Chisholm - I recently completed a new artwork for a 20th anniversary reunion group exhibition entitled "It's Not Me, It's You', called 'Gucci Pooches'. I distort fashion imagery, it's a love/hate thing
Carrie Chisholm – I recently completed a new artwork for a 20th anniversary reunion group exhibition entitled “It’s Not Me, It’s You’, called ‘Gucci Pooches’. I distort fashion imagery, it’s a love/hate thing
Carrie Chisholm - I also like to tend to the flowers on my balcony. It's my little natural oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Carrie Chisholm – I also like to tend to the flowers on my balcony. It’s my little natural oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Carrie Chisholm - I enjoy sourcing and gathering new material for potential art projects. This was an exciting find.
Carrie Chisholm – I enjoy sourcing and gathering new material for potential art projects. This was an exciting find.
Carrie Chisholm - I have 9 nieces and nephews, which means that my mind is never far from of thinking about whose birthday is coming up and what to give them. These were a hit with my nieces in Nova Scotia.
Carrie Chisholm – I have 9 nieces and nephews, which means that my mind is never far from of thinking about whose birthday is coming up and what to give them. These were a hit with my nieces in Nova Scotia.
I'm a pescatarian, which means I eat mostly fish and vegetables. I like my food like my art, colourful.
I’m a pescatarian, which means I eat mostly fish and vegetables. I like my food like my art, colourful.
I've been dying my hair since I was 13. The colour never matches the box.
I’ve been dying my hair since I was 13. The colour never matches the box.
This is an image of my studio at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto. Sadly, I have to relocate soon, after participating in a fantastic year-long residency
This is an image of my studio at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto. Sadly, I have to relocate soon, after participating in a fantastic year-long residency

What ‘hood are you in?

I currently live in the Wallace-Emerson neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end. It’s an area that is undergoing rapid development along Dupont Street and has recently seen a wave of art galleries relocate within its boundaries. I enjoy the area because it’s accessible to the Bloor Subway line, the bounty of parkland that is High Park, and trendy stretches like The Junction and Geary Ave.

What do you do?

As mentioned in my photo captions, I spend my week days working in business development and marketing for a local architecture firm. When I’m not working to pay the bills, I’m in the studio, creating art, or checking out the creative production of other artists. I also like to enjoy Toronto’s culinary scene with my foodie friends.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my largest painting to date, a 48″ x 60″ as yet untitled work that depicts a distorted piece of Christian Dior jewellery. It may resemble the source photograph, or an abstraction of its subject. I am enjoying playing with scale, while attempting to capture the subject’s materiality. I use blind contour drawing to render the distortion and then add layers of acrylic paint over top. I try to keep the process fairly intuitive, in the spirit of the Surrealists.

Where can we find your work?

Currently you can find my work at 98 Glenholme Ave. in a pop up space on the 3rd floor in a group exhibition entitled ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’, which has been organized by AWOL Gallery. I am also in the process of updating my website: carriechisholm.com, and I am fairly active on social media.

 

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1716 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography