Elizabeth Bissonnette graduated from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick, Canada) in the BFA program and traveled to Ireland for her first artist residency at the Burren College of Art. Living in the beautiful scenery of the Burren area has influenced her practice by incorporating textiles and embroidery into her newest work. She has subsequently developed her work with textiles at the Vermont Studio Center by making a new series called “Polite Society.” Her most recent embroidered series juxtaposes the images of hyper-sexualized Internet females in a medium that connotes a different interpretation of woman as a mother and a homemaker, as well as the issues of etiquette and social codes with images of human sexual expression. These artworks highlight the frequent incompatibility of the aforementioned and explore the disconnections between how we desire to act and how we act out of desire.
The majority of her paintings have revolved around portraiture and explorations of the face, along with color and digital imagery. In her painting practice, she tries to push the comparisons between the digital realm and the painted. Specifically, a digitally altered photograph and the faces she chooses to depict. Color is also an important element in her painting practice as she uses it to define different facets of the face. In recent painting projects, her focus of interest has been in the mannequin head; a tool she uses as an annihilation of any human individuality in a facial structure. Using the same segmentation practice as her portraits, as well as a similar color palette, these recent mixed media works revolve around the uncanny as well as an exploration in the construction of a human head.
Elizabeth now lives and works in Ottawa, Canada.
Katerina Pravdivaia, one of our art editors, sat down for a little Q&A session with the Canadian artist, to uncover some of Elizabeth Bissonnette’s thoughts on the creative process, essential tools, the artist studio space, and more!
Can you tell me a little bit about your educational background in art?
I graduated from Mount Allison University with a BFA in 2013 and am currently working on my masters of Art Therapy with the Toronto Art Therapy Institute.
How do you know when a work is finished?
I feel like my work is finished when my aesthetic realizations for the piece have come together. I ask: am I happy with the placement of color or lack thereof, are the drips too many or are they lacking, are the segments of the facial structure accurate or would I like them to be abstract?
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My most important artist tool is a pencil.
Where do you do your work?
I work primarily in my studio, which is based in Ottawa, Canada.
What is your studio space like? Do you keep it clean or is it messy?
My studio space is located in my apartment in a second bedroom. The walls are kept bare for hanging and painting new pieces, and a drawing table is set up for smaller works on paper. Generally, I keep it quite tidy, unless I am in the depths of working on a project or series. In that case, my studio space becomes quite disorgani
What technique do you use?
I generally work in mixed media. Starting off with a graphite sketch of my painting, I then move in with marker or ink. Once this is complete, the colored elements of my pieces are acrylic washes.
Do you prefer a smoother controlled technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
I find in my mixed media work there is a combination of the two. As much as the shapes and facets of the figures are well-defined, I leave room for accidents and drips to give the pieces a more painterly quality and enhance the dimensionality of the heads.
Do you listen to music while you work or prefer silence?
I need music while I am working, as I find silence doesn’t lend well to my creative expressions.
How do you feel when you are making your work?
I feel like I am being productive, and like I am creating something beautiful. It’s a feeling of fulfillment when a piece is completed. I get a sense of pride knowing that I made something that may bring others a deeper appreciation for art.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a figurative drawing series heavily influenced by my embroidery work as well as daily lived experiences.
What’s next for you as an artist?
To create more art and see what happens!