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#1 Ozlem Thompson
Ozlem Thompson is a Turkish painter whose work has been displayed in exhibitions across New York, Spain, and the UK . She has also been published in US, UK, and Chinese journals, and now has almost forty thousand Instagram followers, and growing.
In a Bidgala interview, Thompson states that her life in Istanbul has deeply influenced her work. Thompson was born into an artistic family filled with musicians. Upon completing high school, she studied Biology and completed her masters degree in Botany, where she wrote her thesis on exotic plants and their usage in industrial design. Thompson says in the interview that “my cultural background mixed with my science education has helped set me apart from other artists.”
Thompson looks at life as one big miracle. She often quotes Albert Einstein, who once said that “there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” She feels that “creating art in a deep meditative state is the purest way” because it helps her to mix reality with her imagination, as “[her] art is the result of [her] subconsciousness.”
Thompson dreams of being recognized as a great Turkish artist. Thus far, she has grown her social media through word of mouth. She “started out as an independent artist and [has] met so many amazing people via social media.” Thomson leaves Bidgala artists with one final piece of advice: “coincidences and luck play such a major role in an artist’s career. However, you can shift the odds in your favor by looking out for opportunities and learning as much as you can.”
Ozlem Thompson’s work can be found on the Bidgala website.
#2 Aimee Ruoff
Aimee Ruoff is a Canadian painter who is deeply fascinated with everyday life, which she explores in her oil paintings. Aimee grew up in an art focused home, as her mother was an art teacher (and is still an artist) who held summer classes in their backyard. Ruoff went to an art highschool, but only became seriously committed to oil painting in the past 4 years. She feels that her practice “came to life” once she transitioned to oil.
Ruoff’s art is heavily inspired by the mundane. “I paint from my life, I see the world in paintings” she explains in a Bidgala interview. Aimee focuses on what is temporal, ethereal, and fleeting (clouds, light, etc.). She is sentimental and romantic about life, which is reflected in her artistic practice. She believes that “life is so full of beauty”, and her optimistic attitude makes it easy for her to find it. She considers painting to be a therapeutic experience, and treats it as an act of devotion.
Ruoff’s work has been featured in group shows at the University of Guelph, local galleries, as well as in an animation collaboration with Cocreate Residency called “Little Parts”. She is set to appear at a show in Milan, Italy with 100 emerging artists in September 2021. Her art will also be featured at the Moon Art Fair in Hamburg, Germany in October 2021, and at the Toronto Art Fair.
When asked if she had any advice for new painters, Ruoff eloquently states, “Just paint what you feel drawn to. We often want to be like other painters and although it’s important to learn from others, just paint what you want to paint! If being in the studio is what you love, then do that as much as you can, and you’ll figure it out!”
Aimee Ruoff’s art can be found on Bidgala.
#3 María Escalona
María Escalona is an artist/writer existing in-between cultures, nationalities, and places. She was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and immigrated to Canada at the age of 19 to study art. Since then, the artistic and social life of Montreal has expanded her practice to what she calls “the nostalgic art of being lost”.
Escalona uses her art and writing to explore the experiences, adventures, and struggles of belonging to many places while simultaneously belonging to none. From small things like food packages imported from Venezuela ( which she uses to weave earrings to sell on Etsy), to big things like the irrepressible feelings of missing a place that doesn’t exist anymore, Escalona creates hybrid spaces between her Venezuelan past and her Canadian present. Currently, she is an art student at Concordia Majoring in Fibres and Materials, and she is loving it.
Escalona uses a wide range of techniques in her visual practice. This includes weaving, screen printing, stitch work, book binding, painting, stop-motion videos, poetry, essays, and articles.
In her interview with Bidgala, Maria explains that “material culture is very important to me because we are who we are thanks to the people and things surrounding us. A piece of textile can convey certain emotions because of the person who gave it to you, or the smell of banana leaves may take you back to traditional holiday dinners with your family. The colors yellow, blue, and red trigger in me specific emotions because those are the colors of the Venezuelan flag, and I grew up surrounded by them. So, to use specific materials for my weavings, paintings, and installations is key. I want to convey emotions to a familiar audience and introduce new things to a newer audience. In my works, I use banana leaves, photographs, repurposed fabric, food packages, natural dyes, other unusual materials, or specific languages when writing to explore my personal story and the story behind things. You can be lost within what you see or read and that is fine, but I want to at least leave you with a laugh, a tear, or an intrigue when you see my work.”
Maria Escalona’s hand printed works can be found on Bidgala.