- Would you consider yourself to be someone who was always an artist and/or creator? Or was this something that was discovered later in life?
It came to me later actually. My sister was “the artsy one”, I was the one studying sciences in school and went into nursing after CEGEP. Even though I liked art and practiced it as well, my background was really more science based. It was when I started nursing that I realized I wasn’t living my passion. I was really doing it for the paycheck. I didn’t have the guts to quit my job immediately though; it’s a good job with security and a decent salary. I didn’t want to quit just to quit. It was really when COVID started, it gave me the extra kick I needed to finally quit my job. It was like I needed an excuse to go for it and finally focus on the art I wanted to make.
- Has making art brought you anything, personally?
I actually started in writing and when I quit nursing my goal was to do something with that. Once I did quit my job, I found myself to be a bit lost. I needed projects to do and something new to focus on, so I started by writing like I planned. It was after that I realized I wanted to also represent what I would write about visually. That’s when I started doing my collages. It helped me channel my emotions. When the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery occurred that I was filled with sadness and anger. And at that time, I’m stuck at home, not sure how to deal with these emotions, and it’s just not healthy for it all to stay inside. Writing and making collages really helped me through it, everything came out and I was able to express myself. I’m naturally really vocal in real life but I’m not naturally very vocal on social media, so it was a good way to allow me to be vocal online.
- Your current artistic medium is collage, when did you start using that medium? Does the act of ‘collage’ itself bring another level of significance to your work?
Yes, definitely! For me it’s the idea of taking multiple things that don’t normally belong together and creating something new. In the beginning, my collages were plainer but with time I really started to enjoy integrating a surrealist aspect to them. I want to go out of the traditional narrative, try to visualize something new; new thoughts, new ideas, new ways of telling the story. I love using archives in my art as well; there is a part of me that loves doing research, so researching the history of someone who is BIPOC, especially in the 1600’s or 1700’s, is really interesting. The history of the person the archives is also mine, it is connected to my identity. I want to recreate how we discuss and talk about what history is.
- Your art resonates BIPOC strength and the divine feminine; can we consider your work to be a reflection of the kind of empowerment and celebration missing in our current reality?
First, I want to celebrate BIPOC women, and it is through my collages and art I can reimagine history, how feminism was in the 1800’s or 1900’s. This is my way of exploring my own story and my own femininity. Second, there is power in the past. The book Root by Alex Haley inspires me, especially the part where Kunte Kinte, an 18th century African, captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery, speaks of how everyone is the son/daughter of someone else and they are the son/daughter of someone else, etc., etc. It made me wish I would know my great-great-grandfather; it would be empowering. I want to know my story, where I’m from, what my ancestors went through for me to be here now. As much as I know my mother’s story and all the challenges she had to face to be here today in Montreal, I know there is a lot I don’t know. My mother is Haitian, and apparently one of our great-great-grandmothers was indigenous of Hispaniola. I would have loved to know my whole story though, but I am getting there.
- You also work with and for the project Je Suis Montreal as an artistic director and graphic designer. Do you bring anything with you from Je Suis Montreal into your personal work? Where do these two projects meet for you?
The concept of identity to me is really important, whether it be in my art or everyday life. It all ties into how we define ourselves, how we see the world, what our values are, how we will act as human beings. So, by nature, the deconstruction and construction of identity comes through a lot in my art and what I do. Je Suis Montreal is the exploration of the feeling of belonging of Montreal of BIPOC people and how it changes from person to person, what place everyone feels that they have in the city. It is all tied to identity, so I love it.
- This past year has been really difficult for lots of artists, how have you been renewing your energies between creating? What has kept you motivated through more isolated moments?
The way I see it, I can’t force myself to create. Whenever I have put pressure on myself to write or make art, it makes me less productive because I am stressed about it. Especially with COVID we need to go one day at a time. So, for me it is one inspiration at a time, one piece of art at a time; if it comes to me, I’ll do it. I don’t see myself as a professional artist since I don’t live off it. That allows me to take time away from everything if I need to.
- What goal(s) are you working towards for yourself and your projects? Should we keep an eye out for anything coming up?
I started doing collages on textiles and embroidery. I am looking to explore that more and perhaps come out with bags or merch. Even though I finally have time to do the things I want, I’m going with the flow. We will see where life will take me!
If you would like to know more, follow Taïna on Instagram @tainamueth and Je Suis Montreal on Instagram @jesuismtl or their website www.untoldstoriesmtl.com