My gender plays an important role in everything I do: An interview with Emma Hale
Emma Hale is an emerging Canadian artist with a background in sculpture, photography, print making, installation and fashion design. Hale graduated from McMaster University with a Double Major Degree in Studio Art and Economics. Hale is currently traveling through Asia and pursuing a fashion design degree. She is collaborating with a Toronto-based artist Miguel Chavez on a clothing label called Angelou, which has been shown at FAT: Fashion Art Toronto this year. Hale has stated that she strives to “challenge the common perceptions of reality through expressions of a Universal Truth” and mathematics, history and her womanhood play important roles in her art making.
How important to do you think art education is for an artist today?
Although I value my time in art school, and see the benefit of the training and community I received there I don’t think it is always necessary to be a practicing artist. Art school gives you deadlines and teaches you the power of criticism. It creates a sense of community and the possibility of collaboration. Art school can create a higher level of dialogue and intent than may have been achieved outside of art school. I do not think art school is completely necessary, it all depends on every artist’s individual journey and artistic background. Artists can achieve all these things on their own. If you went to art school or not, all artists are constantly learning and evolving through all life’s experiences.
You were double majoring in economics and visual arts, how does that play a role in your art making? Describe your ideas about the relationship between math and art.
I think that math rationalizes our reality. If we really break things down to a scientific level, we are looking at mathematics. Whenever I do anything in art, my favorite part is breaking down the measurements and mapping out and equating things in my sketch book. I think learning is important and that there doesn’t have to be a difference between “art/creative thinking” and “math/scientific thinking” all knowledge enforces each other and provides you with more context. I am really inspired by geometry. Sometimes I wish I could live forever to learn and become an expert in a bunch of things.
Tell me about your earliest memories of being in the presence of art, when did you first start creating?
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I found these hilarious papers with Popsicle sticks glued in between them so I could hold them like a sign saying “I love snails”. My first “real” art history moment was when I was 5 or 6 and we studied Monet’s Waterlilies in the first grade. I found some paintings I did of those and I remember having a love for Monet and Picasso as a kid, and I still admire them today.
What do you think is the future of art?
North America, or at least the North American establishment has had its time, I think the world would like to see a new shift. The internet and technology help the spread of ideas, bringing light and a voice to people who wouldn’t have had that back in the day.
Does history have an important part in your art?
Yes, I would say so. History, mathematics, religion, perceptions of our reality… greatly interest me. I think that history is important to art no matter what you are doing. You need a context, even if your work is purely aesthetic you need to have an understanding of what that aesthetic is, where it comes from and where you see it fit in within history/culture/art history. All of that is very important.
As a female, how do you see yourself being treated in the art world? Does your gender play an important role in your art making?
My gender plays an important role in everything I do. My identity as a female, as an individual influences how I see and interact in the world. Within fashion design, I look to embody a feeling. I am inspired by unforgivingly powerful, confident women characters. For example, Ayn Rand’s Dagney Taggart or Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill. I am always inspired by Victorian femininity, the geometric and intricate simplicity of art nouveau, art deco, and the 1970s.
Tell me a bit about your sculpture Tetrahedral Tesselation!
My 4th year thesis work was centered around the concept of “expressions of a universal truth”. To me truth is subjective and requires a context to exist. I believe that a Universal Truth, something that explains our reality is also contextual. I think all religions are different contextual retellings of one initial truth, but all in different view points of those believers. I think “God” represents this type of Truth in reality. I see the mix between science, mathematics and the motifs within religious spaces as all representing the same ideas. I like Carl Jung’s concept of “set” and “setting” within the Psychedelic Experience. He says that any psychedelic experiences (this also means religious experiences) are contextual to your surroundings. The Set represents the mindset, the personality, the culture and the Setting represents the surroundings, the culture and vibe of that spot. I created a series of installations, (Tetrahedral Tesselation was a wall sculpture) that represented a setting. I then made a series of muses that would embody this setting. I made clothing, styled, shot and then manipulated digital prints to create the set.
Tetrahedral Tesselation, 2013.
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is equality of all people, of all genders, identities, backgrounds, abilities, classes and any other categorical distinction that we use to divide the human race. This is very important. True feminism does not leave out the equality of any group because “it does not apply to their vision”. I have a big problem with White Feminism. It just creates another paradigm for hatred and oppression… Everyone has some form of power based on their mixed identity, white feminists do not give up their power completely… they do not see their own white privilege and how they must use it to ally to raise all women kind.