Alicia Nauta is a Toronto based artist whose practice includes collage, screenprinting, installation, wallpaper, books, and a growing collection of found oddities for a future museum. She is member of Punchclock, a Toronto print studio, and has taught screenprinting and other DIY workshops at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the AGO Youth Free After Three program. She regularly tables at the NY and LA Art Book fairs with publications and prints. Her work has been exhibited at the AGO, Printed Matter, Katherine Mulherin, Artscape Youngplace, Art Metropole, and Narwhal Projects, as well as permanent wallpaper installations in Toronto at Double Double Land, Likely General and a really cool baby’s room.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m an artist living and working in Toronto, Canada. All my work falls under Alicia’s Klassic Kool Shoppe. This includes my xerox colleges, screenprints, books and zines, printed wallpaper, posters, album art, printed fabric/garments, costumes and a growing collection of found oddities for a future museum. I also teach workshops and take on illustration jobs.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I have an exhibition coming up in St. Catharines, Ontaio at the NAC‘s (Niagara artists centre) Flea Market Gallery in October. I will also be exhibiting at Edition Toronto, a Toronto art book fair at the end of October. In November I’m teaching some free drop in DIY workshops for the youth program at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? We’re living in a crucially important time of huge social, political and environmental upheaval. An ongoing challenge I think about is how to use my platform (and privilege as a white person) as an artist to communicate the things I care about. Art is personal, it’s part of you, and I happen to think the personal is very political. All my worries and feelings about humanity and the world come out in the things I make. Sometimes it’s overt and sometimes it’s more subtle. I’m not sure how it will develop or play out but I want to remain optimistic that affecting positive change is possible. Another facet of this that I think about is lifting up and supporting women who are artists, musicians and makers. It’s still a struggle for representation, especially for women of colour. It seems there is a shift happening, and I hope it continues.
How did your interest in art or design begin? Highschool probably, through my friends and online communities (I grew up with livejournal and myspace) that exposed me to music, art and ideas that were beyond the scope and experience of the small town I lived in. I was interested in zine culture and started exhibiting at zine fairs in highschool, which eventually informed my decision to take printmaking in University.
What bands or artists are you interested in right now? I just exhibited at the NY art book fair and always come back with some exciting books. I love Temporary Services for all the interesting projects and publications they put out, from publishing zines with prisoners, an interview with a bathroom gallerist and curator, to putting out a zine about Suzann Gage (a woman’s reproductive and sexual health rights advocate). My good friend Eunice Luk (whom I also collaborate with) is such an inspiring artist. Her work is so well considered, intimate, funny, strange and beautiful. My two favourite Toronto musicians at the moment are Carl Didur, an organ and tape loop wizard, and New Chance, a vocals and keyboards/electronic project.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? All my work starts as xerox colleges or compositions. I begin with images sourced from books, often DIY home decor guides from the 60’s and 70’s, patterns for quilts and crocheting, botanical guides and encyclopedias, pre-computer graphic design and open source manuals, clip art resource books for teachers and more. These images are then photocopied, cut and pasted and finally screenprinted. The manipulations made to the original images are all done on a photocopier and physically cut and pasted. Images are often on contrasting dimensional planes; a 2d object next to a 3d object, making for multiple and sometimes conflicting perspectives. Sometimes the laws of physics seem to have gone amiss; shadows going opposite ways, wind blowing in different directions, darkness coming from a lamp’s light. Upon first look the compositions are familiar but start to feel strange or alienating after looking longer.
Dogs or cats? CATS! I love all animals but I have a special place in my heart for the kitties. My boyfriend and I have two cats, Bobby and Hibou.
Favorite Toronto hangouts? Toronto island for the beach and swimming. At my print studio that I share with some other great printers and businesses like Colour Code. Likely General, my friend Brooke’s store and gallery. Double Double Land, a DIY art and music venue, especially for Doored, a monthly comedy and performance art night. Honest Ed’s, a soon to be closing magical department store. I like to be at home mostly though. I have a vegetable and flower garden I am proud of and I love to cook, read and listen to music.
What would be your ideal vacation if money was no object? I would love to go for a road trip down the west coast of North America ending in California. I would like to see some landscapes I haven’t experienced much of like deserts, rainforests and jungles. I would like very much to go to Mexico City. Also Taiwan, I have heard of legendary night markets of delicious food.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? One of the best and most precious reactions was from a young girl who came to my table at the LA Art Book fair in 2015. She looked for a long time and then whispered to her mom that she liked this print I made and could she have it for her room. What an honour. My print chosen to hang in her childhood bedroom. I was very touched.