"My deepest belief about art is that the work is created equally by the maker, the materials, and the viewer."
|Observing The Sky (Collage on Aluminum, Resined)|
Victoria Cowan believes in making a piece of art that is both ambiguous and structured. It should be clear enough to interest the viewer and open-ended enough to invite the viewer to find an expression of his own within it.
|20 Questions Projects (11' x 14') (Mixed Media Print on Paper)|
Victoria’s first degree is in psychology. Later, she attended the Ontario College of Art and Design where she earned several prizes, graduating with a major in printmaking. Her mother was a fashion designer and art was always on display in one form or another around the house. Earlier in life, Victoria was more interested in creative writing, but she fell in love with printmaking when she took some courses in the 1980s. She strongly believes that diversity of experience and interests is what really enhances the experience of art: both making it and viewing it.
|20 Questions Project: Un-numbered Routes from If To Where (11' x 14')|
"I love setting parameters and seeing how deeply one can go into them by working in a series. One of the reasons I love book arts is that the sequence of panels or pages is also a series."
|Timeless Starts Here (Collage on Aluminum, Resined)|
Victoria's aspirations to pursue a Masters degree in arts went to the back burner when she started her own printmaking classes for adults. For her, teaching is not just a way to share her enthusiasm and passion with others, but it is also a chance for her to dispel the false belief that the definition of being an artist is being able to reproduce objects near to reality.
"I say to my students, 'Don’t worry! It’s only a piece of paper!' As most of my students are either professionals in another field and/or people close to retirement, I often remind them that none of us are likely to be invited to show at the AGO, so we’re free to pursue whatever ideas we have without worrying about current trends. I quote Samuel Beckett: 'No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.' "
|Power Lines (Acrylic on Panel)|
Victoria has juried many art shows for different organizations.
"I love jurying, because it is a call to clarity. To be fair, a juror has to set aside personal taste and look at each piece for its formal qualities, and how it uses technique to convey its core message."
|Quadratic Choreography IV (Collagraph and Relief on Paper)|
Victoria produces work in the form of series. In her current body of work, she is working with urban imagery and incorporates pieces of text in it. She creates prints either by hand or on a press, and uses her computer to print texts to be incorporated within the collage.
"Hill Town is one of a series called ‘Tracings’ consisting of multiple tracings of objects that have meaning for me. Some relate to a person, some to an event or a place, others are much appreciated for their constant utility. The process of outlining balances meditative repetition with variations of angle, pressure, colour, and type of tool, as well as manipulation and placement of the object on the substrate. The concept of tracing denotes not only outlining, but also tracking — seeing where a trail leads. So, the work is an animated conversation involving the object itself, its history and meaning, and the nature of the materials."
For Victoria, the process of teaching printmaking is just as much of a creative challenge as producing art on her own. It is as much a journey of self discovery as it is of learning a new talent. As much as one can learn art on one's own, it can be augmented in the presence of a teacher and a group of fellow artists striving for the same results: discovery.
|Santa Fe Veil|
Victoria's favourite medium to work with is paper.
|Wild At Heart (Front)|
|Wild At Heart (Back)|
"One of my lectures, on aging and creativity, 'The Time of Your Life,' was built around an international exchange of artists’ books. We were divided into groups of eight. Each of us was assigned a theme, mine was 'My Ancestors,' and the book centred on a poem I’d written entitled Mother Tongue with imagery that reflected the theme of women's lore over many generations."
|Protests (Collage on Aluminum, Resined)|