Tina M. Struthers, 37, currently lives in Vaudreuil-Dorion, in the Montreal area, Quebec, Canada.
Tina started her creative journey on the shores of Cape Town, South-Africa, from a young age this artist was inspired with all forms of art but became particularly fascinated by theatrical performance art, painting, sculpture and instillation works in textile. Tina attended the Open Window Art Academy in 1999 specializing in Visual Communication/Fine Arts in Pretoria (South-Africa) were she graduated.
“Together with my art background, I have always worked with textiles and design. Through diverse projects and life changing experiences, I have acquired different sets of skills, allowing me the freedom to artistically express myself in a variety of mediums.”
In 2008 Tina and her family came to Canada, first to Southern Ontario, and then to Quebec were she currently lives and works. Having to learn French as a completely new language was a new challenge but also allowed for a new audience.
I am currently happily exploring and developing various works in textile and mixed media in three dimensions. Having the incredible opportunity to work on various community and cultural mediation projects, I have had the privilege and joy of sharing, the richness creativity brings to our lives with many diversified groups of all ages and cultures. By giving, we truly find our place and peace in the world.
Tina now concentrates her energy and pools all of her art knowledge and technique into finding a creative balance between textile, design and visual arts, (painting and drawing), this is made possible by Tina becoming an installation artist allowing for all her artistic practices to combine and communicate their message to Tina’s audience.
ASLI chose Tina Struthers for her amazing style and craft in producing such a beautiful piece to discuss the importance of education as a whole and particularly for girls who still have not got the same rights to education in many parts of the world. Tina’s art made us feel hopeful and we were excited to share her work with a wider audience, globally.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of “Education for girls and young women” in your art?
“Education, I believe is the key to liberating and giving flight to our dreams. This is a subject I have always held very close to my heart, the value of an education is immeasurable. The more we learn, the more we open our minds to all the wonderful possibilities, sometimes previously unknown, and the richness of knowledge and history the world has to offer. I think it is extremely important to develop opportunities for Girls and young woman, to have access to education and through this have more life choices, allowing them to reach their full potential. We need to take responsibility to help nurture and nourish the dreams of all young girls, to help them to develop and grow into woman that can be independent, make their own choices, and ultimately make a difference in their communities, and in the world!
Woman that will weave together our society, complete the pictures, woman that hold families together and thus transfer and protect the incredible wealth of diverse cultural heritage around the world, for future generations. By empowering girls and young woman with education, and skills, we give them an opportunity to be, to grow wings, and to take flight.”
Tell us why you chose this submission?
“Childhood Dreams Grow”
I submitted this artwork as with it I attempted to captures the magic the world can hold for a young girls if she has the opportunity to get an education.
This mixed media textile instillation is a recent work, and is part of a new collection I am working on, inspired by “childhood”, and the many things from the time in our lives that impacts us in a way that we may only learn to understand in adulthood . Childhood being if we are fortunate, the magical time when the impossible is possible and reality has no clear borders yet. The instillation portrays a universal young girl, pulling her dreams along with her. With education the world becomes more accessible. The hearts of all children are full of dreams, and the magic of all the possibilities in the world. We need to take responsibility to help nurture and nourish the dreams of all young girls, to help them to develop and grow into woman that can be independent, make their own choices, and ultimately make a difference to the world!
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“Working with Textiles has been an important thread in my creative development from a very young age. I am a little obsessed with the endless variety and potential of textures, colours, and movement, it is a medium that is available almost anywhere. Currently I am exploring different ways to improve my skills with this medium when creating fine artworks, especially as a three dimensional medium.”
What is your process when creating?
“Inspiration for a new creation comes from various sources, often current local or world events, my natural environment, a piece of textile, a found object. I always start with research on a subject matter, and then delve into the details, as we attempt to understand a subject, in all it’s details and intricacies, concepts develop and start taking form. As I am very visual and tactile, I usually start working as soon as I have can clearly visualize an image of the end result, I love the process of creation, and will often change details along the way, as they seem needed, to maintain balance. The challenge for me is always to know when to stop, when is it perfectly incomplete, as I try to never over-saturated an artwork. Weaving different materials, emotions and experiences together.”
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
“Growing up in South-Africa, a multicultural and multi-ethnic society, with its richness in diversity, has shaped my artistic interpretations, from a very young age. I love working with people, and find inspiration in the beauty of the diversity in all people.
My lifelong fascination with movement created by the wind, and the sea, began in a natural environment that was breathtaking. This has become one of the main themes in all my works, where I constantly seek to capture flow, or the element of change. I find my inspiration in the contrasts between different personalities, places, and the forever present influence of our heritage, on our point of view or perception of reality.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“I found the mission of Art Saves Lives truly inspiring, and it is very close to my own philosophy when creating, and developing community projects. Art has incredible healing and motivational power, and has the ability to bridge so many social and economical barriers, bring us all closer together, and filling our lives with meaning. I truly believe that through art we can make a difference first in our communities, but spreading to social and global issues, such as social inequality and environmental conservation, these being often lost in the political mayhem of the world of today.”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
“I believe firstly you have to take your work seriously, plan accordingly and always treat others with respect, then without conforming to any stereotype, you will eventually be taken seriously in the context of uniqueness. For woman as for any person, conforming within reason to some social norms will speed up this process. However this depends very much on what your education and cultural background is, and were in the world you find yourself. I have been extremely fortunate to work in a society and environment that allows me to freely explore and construct work that includes methods that are outside traditional gender roles. I know that for many woman around the world, this situation is very difficult.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
“The position of woman in many societies around the world has dramatically changed in the last 50 to 60 years, However in many parts of the world there is much needed work to be done, and to truly change circumstances based on preconceived ideas and ideals, takes time, change will take more than one generation to become completely accepted. I think as woman born into in societies, where we have the privilege of equal rights, and equal opportunities, we have an immense responsibility to make use of these opportunities, make our voices heard, and also to create awareness, and inspire change for woman that life in a very different reality.
Growing up in South-Africa, with all its fast richness of cultural diversity, I often witness this enormous difference in equality between men and woman, based on ethical, educational, and cultural differences. It can be extremely limiting on the potential and choices of many young woman and girls.”
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“For me feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. However I do not believe in any actions that will disadvantage any other groups in society. Do I and will I stand up for woman’s rights, yes always, I much rather classify myself as an avid “equal rightist” , It is very important to me that all people, no matter age race or religion should be treated equally without prejudice or bias.”
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
“Environmental conservation, and limiting our carbon footprint is some of the major issues that drive me, basically limiting waste, this spills over to wasting food and water. Being an avid recycler, and often including recycled or recuperated materials in my projects and artworks. Recycle ,recuperate, re-use, re-invent.
I also very passionate about allowing woman from all cultures to protect their wealth of hand-crafted skills, and I believe that this wealth of knowledge should be protected and transferred to the next generation before it is lost forever. In our computer and digital aged world, many people never take the time to learn basic hand craft skills. I believe the time we spend teaching and transferring this knowledge, gives a divers richness to our community lives.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“Art has the power to transport from the present, and give us a few moment of peace, freeing us temporarily from the stresses of our daily lives. Assisting us to gain distance and perspective on problems we face. It permits us to give a voice to express things words can often not.
Art has most certainly saved my live on many different occasions, whenever I have been close to losing hope, or in extremely difficult emotional circumstances, it has given me a challenge to pull through. As time passes, I have gained great inspiration, and happiness in sharing art and the process of artistic creation with others. Being an immigrant, and a woman, most certainly comes with its share of challenges, repeatedly through art I have gained the courage to grow roots in my new country.”
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
“Art as a form of visual communication I truly believe can be very powerful, especially, as with music, it needs no translation, it crosses language barriers so beautifully. Through art we have the freedom to express, and it can be an incredible catalyst to start conversations to inspire change. It has always been important to me that an artwork should have a message, or be an commentary, I hope that t would spark a conversation with the viewer, and in this way be a small inspiration for change.”
What are your goals as with your art?
“Professionally to challenge and perfect my skills, but also to continually develop new ways to give a voice to concepts an ideas. It is equally important for me to work on community projects, were I am free to share, and hope to inspire others through creating together. To through art build a sense of place in our community.”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“I am currently working on a community project with a fellow woman artist,( Monika Brinkman) called ” Au coeur de ma communauté” ( At the heart of my community)We are creating a public artwork that will be unveiled at the end of may 2015. Through this cultural mediation project we are working with different groups of woman of all ages in our community. WE are using quilting blocks made of reclaimed fabric’s as the base of our sculpture. A celebration, of woman and sharing.
I am also working on a collection of instillation artworks, for an exhibition planned for 2017, the project is a reflection on the cultural heritage that woman carry in them and transmit to the next generation, it is all in development, so I do not want to give too much details at this time.”
And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?
“Only with a very supportive Husband and very good friend, I am able to passionately and freely pursue a life in arts, and creative projects.”
Find out more about Artist Tina Struthers