Natalie Wood

NatalieWoodNatalie Wood is a contemporary multimedia artist and curator who creates and exhibits art-work that cohabits the areas of art and research. Her work includes the use of recyclable materials, drawing and painting, media, printmaking, video and web-based art.

Born and raised in Trinidad, Natalie obtained her studio training at Ontario College of Art and Design and went on to complete an MA in Art Education from the University of Toronto in 2000. Her works have been presented nationally and internationally in several group exhibitions (Peterborough Art Gallery 2012, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art 2007), International Art Fairs (Artist Project Toronto 2010, Nuit Blanche 2007, Toronto Alternative Art Fair International, 2006), and film and video festivals (the New York Mix Film and Video Festival, Trinidad and Tobago New Media Film Festival, Inside Out, Images, Pleasure Dome and Mpenzi Film and Video festival where she won the Audience Choice Award in 2006). She has had solo shows at WARC gallery (2012), ASpace Gallery windows, Zsa Zsa Gallery and following on residencies at the Spadina Museum House and at the Caribbean Contemporary Art Centre 7 in Trinidad. A recipient of numerous awards from the Toronto, Ontario and Canada Council for the Arts, she received the 2006 New Pioneers Award for contribution to the Arts in Toronto and was nominated for the 2006 K. M Hunter Interdisciplinary Arts Award for her web-based project Kinlinks which is online for viewing at www.kinlinks.net.

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An Interview with Natalie Wood

Tell us a bit about you!

I usually describe myself as someone who is a multimedia artist creating work at the intersections of art and history. Thematically: I often work with pop cultural references usually from the 60’s and often related to social justice movements such as the Black Panthers (who by the way were willing to build coalitions with queer people) or the feminist movement from about the same time. That time seemed more hopeful and people were easily willing to stand up to fight for justice – or so it seemed. Personally I believe that some of the energy from this time just soaked into my dna when I was a kid. As such it is safe to say that for me my work is about trying to bring to light injustices in our world today, with the hope that educated people would become part of the solution.

I tend to be moved to create in a number of media – video, web-based, cardboard, printing and painting. I am a kinda jack/ Jasmine of all trades. However I am in love with the body and its forms of expression and often my work relies very heavily on portraiture.

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What was the inspiration behind your mural?

This mural was visually inspired by Gran Fury’s “Kissing doesn’t kill poster” that made links between the aids crisis and the lack of political will to find a cure – because of who was affected with the virus. This poster was one of the few posters that I could remember at the time that included a diversity of people and at the time it was so rare to see images of queer people of color kissing in public.

I was also inspired by my love for books and how important it is for me to be able to read about the lives, loves and choices made by other queers and in particular queers of color.

I was born in Trinidad and came to Toronto to attend university and came out and did not want to return because of my queerness and because my family (of origin) responded violently when I came out. This is an opportunity for me to thank many of the activists working at the time to make living life as queer safe and possible. I attended many meetings, gatherings and parties which all helped me to become proud to be queer. – I feel like I was finally given a chance to find love and happiness.

Tell us about how you made your work

This mural piece would mostly be created digitally. I will photograph images of couples kissing in silhouette. I will take their silhouettes and collage titles of texts that many in the queer community read that helped inform them of who they are as queer people. I intend to have an online portion – short sharings from queer people who not only shared the titles of texts that was important to them but also shared some of their reasons for their choices. http://iamnataliewood.blogspot.com

What do you hope people will take away from your piece?

One of the things I hope people would take away is that they would be informed or remember the important work that was done to fight for justice here in Toronto and elsewhere, and that though there were many successes we still need to make this world a safe place for queers. Importantly we need to support the queer activists fighting for justice in other countries such as Russia, Jamaica, Uganda etc. and we need to bring a strong positive energy to the fight. I would also like people to take with them the importance of remembering and celebrating our successes.

How do you see this project changing or contributing to the Church-Wellesley Village?

It is an opportunity to memorialize the early queer activists in Toronto and as such to bring a sense of history that is alive and hopeful.

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