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Courtesy of Jimy Sloan
Courtesy of Jimy Sloan

11 Emerging Contemporary Artists from Nova Scotia to Know

Picture of Kate Horodyski
Updated: 16 October 2017

Nova Scotia has a rich art scene and is brimming with talented new artists. We spoke with some of the emerging contemporary artists in the province and asked them to share a bit about what inspires them and makes their work unique.

Ian Funke-McKay

Working in Halifax, Ian Funke-McKay graduated from NSCAD University (BFA ‘14). With a focus on painting, he is currently building specialized emblems, figurines, and displays, that are combined for exhibition purposes. He works seasonally as a visual arts instructor at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts.
Ian is currently a media arts scholar at CFAT ( Centre for Art Tapes ) where he looks to the format of medieval display and how it could be translated to newer technologies and contemporary exhibitions. In February, he will reveal a digitally generated three-dimensional light show.
Best Emerging Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Ian Funke-McKay

Jack Bishop

My current paintings revisit the idea of Canadian landscape in terms not of natural but of commercial space, where ubiquitous retail outlets dictate use of the land and proclaim its occupation. Exploring themes of car-culture, consumerism, and sprawl, they subvert the idea of a romanticized untouched Canadian environment, iconized in art history in such celebrated work as the Group of Seven.

As a resource, I make collages from photographs to map out densely crowded compositions, a sort of “Geography of Nowhere” typical of the outskirts of large North American cities. Placement of advertising, roads, and infrastructure are rendered as picturesque scenery, teeming with cars, gas stations, traffic lights and illuminated signs schematically appropriating logos of big chain stores.

The spaces are deceiving, and perspective is sometimes lost within thick layers of oil paint, directional brushstrokes, and heavy impasto. I try to find a sense of humour in bright and colorful work while also presenting a dark realism in a sense of excess, widespread consumption and environmental impact. I like to think about the way I assemble my paintings as an urban planner mapping and carving out fabricated space from my surroundings into new developments.

You can find more from Jack on his website.

Best Emerging Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Jack Bishop

Hangama Amiri

As an artist, I’ve always been interested to look into Canadian contemporary female artists such as Joyce Weiland, Wanda Koop, and Landon Mackenzie. Their practices have deep roots in themes of place, memory, geography and their psychological connections with nature. Throughout 2012 to 2015, I wandered around the outskirts of Nova Scotia’s land, including Wolfville and Lunenburg, and built bodies of work that explored the concept of human connection with nature.

My recent painting project Cliff of the Bay (2014/2015), is based on my exploration of direct experience in nature. The paintings examine the psychic and nostalgic spaces caught in a moment of complete serenity and unity. In this series, the paintings are intensely coloured and vivid in their imagery. In each panel, the imaginary scenes are depicted in a more subtle, quiet, and nuanced means, as they build a space of reflection inside the loudness of their presence.

Learn more about Hangama and her projects on her website.

Best Emerging Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Hangman Amiri

Violeta Izquierdo

Violeta Izquierdo is a Halifax-based jewellery designer and maker. She has graduated from NSCAD University, majoring in Jewellery and Metalsmith. Her work is a reflection of the diverse cultural elements of her birthplace of Colombia and of her immigration to Canada. Violeta combines traditional metalsmith techniques with non-traditional materials and is fascinated with balancing intricate textural elements and colour to create playful yet elegant contemporary jewellery. Her work is informed by her childhood and by the nostalgia of childhood innocence. 

Using cubes and spheres as a starting point, Violeta’s jewellery is structural in its form and composition, yet organic in its surface.  Reminiscing on childhood innocence is a reaction to an unknowing of how to deal with adulthood on a day-to-day basis and with larger societal problems such as inequality and prejudice. Childhood innocence elicits a frame of mind where assumptions don’t exist. This aspect of innocence removes judgment and brings forth notions of understanding.

Best Emerging Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Violeta Izquierdo

Tamara Oake

We asked Tamara to describer her art, and this is what she shared with us.

“I’m a natural-dye artist and a maker from the East Coast of Canada. I’ve always been drawn to the peace the earth brings – so it’s only natural I found my passion in creating interior pieces rooted in nature and her beauty. I’m inspired by slow living and simplicity and strive to use pure and sustainable materials in my designs.”

Browse Tamara’s beautiful pieces here.

Best Emerging Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Tamara Oak

Emma Piirtoniemi

I am inspired by the potential of wearable art to connect with people on a tactile and personal level. This tactile element of jewellery informs my designs. Using alternative materials like carved acrylic and glass, I make pieces that tap into sensuality and the innate allure of jewellery. With each piece, I aim to attract the eye and beckon the hand, piquing curiosity and inviting interaction with these contemplative wearable objects.

Currently, I’m looking to food for inspiration. My latest acrylic pendants are inspired by fruit, both real and imagined. I am furthering these ideas in my newest work which is under development. Looking to gastronomy and the seductive forms that chefs create for the plate and palate, I explore parallels between that and jewellery as a feast for the senses.

Admire Emma’s creations on her site and her Instagram.

Best Emerging Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Emma Piirtoniemi

Maggie MacCormick

I started Maggie Jayne by accident in 2015 while traveling in India. I studied textiles and fashion so when I found myself in a manufacturing hub during my travels, I had a backlog of designs and a bit of intuition about how to put together a collection so I just went for it and have been learning everything else as I go. I like designing silhouettes that are comfortable for a variety of bodies but also fit into my overall aesthetic which I think has elements of utility,

I like designing silhouettes that are comfortable for a variety of bodies but also fit into my overall aesthetic, which I think has elements of utility, minimalism, and whimsy. The main focus for me right now is the idea of uncovering the entire supply chain – I would like to meet all of the people whose hands are involved in making a garment. This goal has led me to travel to different parts of India and meet people working in the textile and fashion industry, which has been the source of endless inspiration.

Aside from production, I am interested in the life the clothes will have after leaving my studio. It’s so fun to imagine a world for the clothes, putting them onto different bodies and into different context in photo shoots. When I am designing silhouettes and choosing fabric I am thinking about how this piece will function in the life of the person who is going to eventually own them. I like knowing that to some people these pieces are treated like treasure and brought along on trips or worn to special places.

Best Emerging Artists in Nova Scotia

Maggie MacCormick’s design | Courtesy of Meghan Whitton

Jimy Sloan

My name is Jimy Sloan and I am a visual artist who works and lives in Prospect, Nova Scotia. I work on large painted surfaces, exploring depth and texture while transforming figure and form. My canvases are a direct way of speaking that illustrates clearly the breakdown of the literal and the power of expression. By working in this way I am trying to express a raw potential of illusion.

Within the surfaces I create I attempt to portray a strong sense of representation and abstraction. These paintings demand exploration, time and reinterpretation. The idea that one image can have multiple readings, that can shift as the viewer becomes aware of new elements and their position within the work, is amazingly interesting in 2017. In an age of parallel dialogues and doublespeak which interestingly intertwines and runs parallel to the shifts in language away from the spoken and written and into the digital, I choose to explore this idea visually, metaphorically, and formally.

Best Emerging Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Jimy Sloan

Hannah Preston

My scarf line is a mix of modern design with a traditional craft. I enjoy creating bold, bespoke textiles that are high quality with traditional methods. I love the control that I’m able to have over my loom and the endless options I can achieve. My main goal is to try and achieve the perfect fusion between traditional craft and modern design. The best way for me to create is by trial and error, I’ll weave multiple products and samples until I find something I love and can work with to develop a line. My scarves have individually been designed and crafted with a lot of traditional local methods and materials. No two scarves are the same. I love what I do, and hope the recipients love their scarves as much as I enjoy making them!

You can find Hannah’s pieces on her site and Instagram.

Best Emerging Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Hannah Preston

Bryson Chisholm

Bryson is drawn towards places that relate to his teenage years growing up in rural Nova Scotia. By establishing compositions that imply a narrative, he hopes to provoke others to reflect on prejudice towards seemingly uninviting spaces. These paintings depict areas that are seen as being decrepit, overgrown, unsightly and hostile upon first encounter.

But through his view, they are outdoor communal spaces which are maintained by those who frequented and share a feeling of ownership towards them. Each painting recalls an unexpected encounter with someone who coincidently occupied the same place and is there for the same reason as himself. These paintings are his attempt to capture the yearning enthusiasm of his initial discovery of these places, leaving him with the desire to relive and re-create the initial memory.

Emerging Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Bryson Chisholm

Gillian Maradyn-Jowsey

My multi-disciplinary art practice curiously resides at the intersection between whimsical squiggles and crisp design. It fuses the formal concerns of mid-century modern design and architecture with the slumpy eclecticism of DIY craft culture. These aesthetic influences trickle into all facets of my ceramic-based practice. My process is fuelled by delight for exploring materials and foraging for pattern, texture, and colour — it leaves no rock, no-speck of glitter, no pom-pom, no pinch pot unturned. As an antidote to the vacant, mass-produced products that inhabit our homes, my studio practice attempts to playfully reimagine alternative ways to activate our domestic spaces by reconsidering their surfaces, forms, and spatial features.

Emerging Artists in Nova Scotia

Courtesy of Gillian Maradyn-Jowsey