Look Out For Nadia Baker At The Eastside Culture Crawl

November 13, 2010 

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As mentioned in the lede to a previous interview (here), the East Side Culture Crawl (November 26, 27, 28) is on the horizon and we want to get a feel for who’s participating this year. Today, we take up some of local artist Nadia Baker’s precious pre-Crawl time to ask her a few questions about what she has going on…

Three things about Strathcona that make you want to live there: 1) sense of community. 2) walkability and bikeability to many good things within the hood and beyond including Commercial Drive, Chinatown, and Downtown. 3) the Eastside Culture Crawl

How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? This will be my third year participating as an artist. I have been a loyal viewer for many years prior. It has always been a highlight and an event I look forward to each year.

Three words you would use to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended: Open studio festival.

A one sentence artist’s statement to describe your work: I study the urban landscape through a combination of photography and printmaking to use these spaces as a starting place for my own creative expression.

What inspires you? I’m inspired by the everyday elements of our urban environment. I enjoy the challenge of observation and the process of documentation and transformation into a new creation. Because reality is so varied and surprising, there is lots of room for imaginative interpretation.

I make a point of noticing the unseen machines that dot our everyday landscape and like to pretend they are alive. For example, when I am walking through Chinatown and Downtown Vancouver, electrical transformers which sit quietly perched on power poles, often unnoticed, call to me. Though they perform the same function, each has a different design and personality. They come to life in my imagination.

Nadia Baker Transformers in Chinatown AlleyFriends Connected Nadia BakerNadia Baker View from up here - The Sun Tower_NBakerNadia Baker Jackson_Avenue_Community_Garden_Billboard_NBakerTransformer 6 Nadia Baker

What are you most excited to be working on right now? I’m really excited about a new series where I took photos of billboards scattered throughout downtown Vancouver and then use the billboards as a canvas for my own printed media. It has been an exciting journey for 3 reasons: 1) Using a digital printer, I was able to print my colour photographs on a large scale (30″ x 22-3/8″). This is much larger than I am used to working in. 2) The digital printer also allowed me to incorporate real colour from the photograph in one step. I didn’t have to generate 4 or more separate plates to create the colour. 3) I combined different printing techniques, both modern and traditional including etching, relief, litho, and chin colle methods.

My two latest works look at the same billboard from different sides and at different times. The first piece titled “419 Jackson Avenue Pre-Community Garden Billboard” depicts a vacant lot and billboard littered with refuse including a pile of tires, chewed up couch, and an old spring mattress. The homeless man selling flowers in the “Carral Street Billboard” is also here. The billboard is composed of a monoprint depicting a small seedling growing out of the darkness. It hints at the possible future for this garbage laden rat infested lot.

The second piece titled “419 Jackson Avenue Community Garden Billboard” is the same lot now transformed into a community garden. The seedling has grown tall and strong into a big tree and is the centerpiece for dialogue between native birds attracted to the garden including an American robin, spotted towhee, and black-capped chickadee.

What sort of music do you listen to when you work? I usually put my ipod on shuffle and listen to everything from Radiohead, Bjork, Feist, Nina Simone, to the Flaming Lips. Recent favourites are the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach, the Noisettes album Wild Young Hearts, and the Broken Bells album.

Why is Vancouver a good city for art? We have good examples of art in public spaces accessible to all, such as the Vancouver Bienalle Sculpture show. I just love watching young and old get up close to the sculptures, mimic the pose, and get their picture taken. It is such a great interaction to see. The Eastside culture crawl is also another great example of this.

Is there a local designer or artist that you admire above all others? Wow, this is a difficult question. I am inspired by so many printmakers and artists that I have met through the Malaspina Printmakers Society and the Eastside Culture Crawl. It is too hard to pick just one.

Best Vancouver place to be inspired by emerging artistic talent: The Interurban Gallery & Community Art Space located at 1 East Hastings.

Three places you like to take out of town guests to show off the Art scene in Vancouver: Granville Island, Vancouver Art Gallery, the Vancouver Bienalle Sculptures.

One thing you would like to change about the Arts scene in Vancouver:
It would be great to see more galleries exhibiting emerging artists.

If you were going to recommend a Vancouver artist(s) for Scout to interview, who would it be? Performer Spandy Andy and children’s book author/illustrator Lisa Cinar.

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Check out Nadia’s website here.