Mural: Winters Lit
Address: St. Louis Hotel at 430 8 Ave SE
Artist: Monica Ila
Animator: Jarett Sitter
Q: Tell us a bit about your art practice.
MI: I’m a visual artist that enjoys painting, puppetry and making giant monsters…
JS: I'm a freelance illustrator and animator based in Calgary. Most of my work can be seen in music related projects.
Q: What has been a favorite project of yours?
MI: Every project is my favourite when it gets completed! The projects I enjoy the most are exhibitions that make art accessible to people from all walks of life. The Ramsay community mural I painted last year is up there too.
JS: Hard to pin down one favorite, but this year I created the illustrations for The Calgary Folk Music Festival, which was a highlight. I also created a cover for a New York publication, The Believer, earlier in the year and got their music issue which I was super excited about.
Q: What was your inspiration for this painting/animation?
MI: A yeti I named Otzi was the first large scale monster I ever made, and he continues to be one of my favourite imaginary friends. Knowing this year’s theme was Electric Winter we wanted a fun, colourful window to celebrate both the NRWE theme and the window’s physical location within the East Village. We were lucky to have been paired with the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and for them to have offered us a window on the historic St Louis Hotel front which is close to the new Calgary Public Library and the National Music Centre.
JS: The inspiration for our idea was a large yeti sculpture that Monica had made in her free time. Being close to the New Central Library and National Music Centre helped inform the images of books and music within our piece as well.
Q: How did the AR aspect of this exhibition influence you when creating the mural/animation?
MI: Jarett and I worked together on this project from the very beginning. We designed the window and talked about the animations that could be paired with it at every stage of the process.
JS: We didn't want to over show things in our painting, we wanted to make sure there was room for things to be revealed when the animations came to life. We also aimed to allow the painting to still show through while animations occurred around it, rather than obscure the piece. I think that's where a lot of the charm of augmented reality can be found.
Q: What is something you want the viewer to take away after experiencing your window?
MI: I’d like them to take away a smile. There were many giggles that I overheard when I was outside painting. It was the best distraction from the freezing cold.
JS: Hopefully it instills a bit of a sense of wonder within the viewer, the idea that they can bring this fictional, static world to life, and reveal some of the secrets it holds.
Q: When touring the exhibition what is the ideal beverage to bring along?
MI: A London Fog as it is the beverage form of a warm hug.
JS: I think a hot chocolate would be the beverage of choice, that's the official drink of winter isn't it?
Q: What did you find surprising/unexpected about participating in the exhibition?
MI: I was the most surprised and honoured to be able to take part in the exhibition itself to be honest! I am a big fan of free public exhibitions such as these, as they get people out and excited about our beautiful city.
JS: On Monica's end it was definitely how much the cold weather played in painting. The cold days didn't allow for the paint to dry properly without cracking. This meant that it had to be retouched. Consequently I had to readjust the animations with the new line work.
Q: What do you enjoy about being an artist/animator in Calgary?
MI: I have to say that my favourite part is meeting all the wonderful and creative people that have taken part in this exhibition; our sponsor CMLC, Buds Collective and the talented artists that help make our city a more vibrant place to be.
JS: I think that Calgary is a fairly young city that's always growing and changing and figuring out what it wants to be. With that comes a story that is still to be told and created by the people that inhabit it. As an artist you have the privilege to be a part of that conversation, one of the people tasked with getting to tell that story.
Buds Collective would like to thank the CMLC for participating in Northern Reflections 2018.
Photographer: Katy Whitt
Article: Victoria Hedin