Loyal readers of the Art Section of Style.No.Chaser know that we love writing about art and artists of all sorts from all around the world. However, there are times when an artist's story really resonates with us and touches us in a very deep way. Canadian artist Sandra Chevrier is nothing short of inspiring. She chooses to live her own truth by bucking the trend of ridiculously unattainable standards that society places upon individuals (primarily women). Sandra wants people to believe and understand that we are all just human, and flaws and errors in our lives are very okay. We are all superheroes in our own right but even superheroes sometimes have bad days and take losses. Don't be afraid to lose or fail because even in failure there are lessons that are priceless. Invaluable lessons like resilience, passion, life's calling and fortitude come with failure and we could all use a healthy dose. Oh, by the way, Sandra's art is extremely fresh with a mixture of modern imagery, poignant honesty and skillful execution. Her art matches her story.
Sandra is a spectacular person with an amazing story and vivid truthful art that you can read and see below.
Please tell us a little about yourself—your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I come from the suburbs north of Montreal, Canada. When I was young there were still loads of forests in my little town called Rosemere. We would build tree houses with our neighbors and organize caterpillar hunts and reward the individual who would catch the most. As a little girl I remember telling my mother I wanted to be a hairdresser and I would charge her only a dollar to cut her hair. I have always been into crafts; as a child, I remember drawing with my aunt instead of playing cards with the rest of the family.
Art became serious when I was about 14. I did a portrait of a child and oh my God, I was so proud that I showed it off to everybody. I still have this drawing, and honestly it was not that good, but I am glad that because of it I found my passion on that day. I believe finding your passion is one of the greatest gifts you can receive from life!
In high school, teachers were asking me to stop drawing on desks. When I said to them ‘’it wasn’t me’’ they told me I was the only student that could draw that well. As an adult, I moved to the city of Montreal, where I still live now with my cat and son. When I got pregnant I decided not to go back to work (I was a sushi chef) after my maternity leave. Things have been good for me since then—sometimes you have to trust life, believe in yourself and take some risks.
What does your art mean to you?
Art has always been a way for me to express myself, and also it is, for me, a language on its own.
How do you describe your form of art?
The series Cages is about women trying to find freedom from society’s twisted preconceptions of what a woman should or shouldn’t be. These women encased in cages of brash imposing paint or comic books that masks their very person symbolizes the struggle that women go through with having these false expectations of beauty and perfection. They also depict the limitations society places on women, corrupting what truly is beautiful by placing women in these prisons of identity. By doing so, society is asking them to become superheroes.
There is also a certain melancholy in these different faces as if these women experienced a situation that they did not wish upon themselves. As if they were "slaves." The works are an offset of American comics, synonymous to entertainment and fun. This is exactly the goal of the series—a daily struggle against that which is imposed by society and the very expectations we impose on ourselves.
I keep myself busy in many ways; single mom, business woman, artist, the household, romance, errands. It puts a lot on one’s shoulders. We overwork ourselves. We are all slaves to something or of something. And in comic books, despite all the playfulness of the thing itself and all the “POW BING BAM,” superheroes are also fragile. For example when Superman loses his battle against Doomsday, the image of his red cape tattered and planted in the ground as a fallen flag has intense beauty and incredible power. This is just one example among many others. We are merely human men and women and we are entitled to the flaws and errors.
How do pick your art subjects and what tools do you use for the creation of your work?
Cages started when I was doing crafts with my (then) 2 year old son. I found an old sketch of a woman’s portrait and passed over it with heavy textures of dollar store toll paints. I found the result very striking and thus the very humble beginning to a lengthy series began. The transition to comic book collage happened upon embarking on a DIY home project. I had an old, small and cheap IKEA dresser that I had planned to cover in comic book collage. Not long after planning this small home project, the dresser broke. So I was left with a broken piece of furniture and dozens of copies of comic books that I had picked up at a nearby flea market. So I put them to use, and thus the comic book cage series was created.
I work with mix media; watercolors, pastels, acrylic, china ink, collage. But I am presently working on an all hand painted Superheroes Cages series.
How did you create your personal style?
Creativity is the result of experimentation and evolution. It is easy to repeat something over and over because it was successful. By trying and making mistakes, one can evolve and create something new and powerful. That’s what I am trying to do every day. Although I am a really hard worker, I’m not always happy with the results. There is always something good in what we do, even if we fail, because we learn from it. I think, write and sketch a lot. When I find an idea that I love, I want to play with it until I have no more fun.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
The worst critiques come from the people who don’t really get the message behind the aesthetic side of my work. The best compliments come from the people that tell me my art had an impact on the way they see life. A polo champion wrote to me last year, telling me about his personal story. All his life he had been a champion, never failed, then one day he had a big accident with is horse. He thought his life was ending and didn’t know who he was anymore. He saw one of my paintings and understood that if Superheroes can be fragile sometimes, so can we. He found is courage in my art.
Another incredible compliment came from a mother who lost her daughter from cancer. She said my paintings reminded her of her little girl that fought like a superhero till the end.
Which artist/s do you look up to the most? In your view, what defines a great artist?
There are many artists that I admire. Zoltan Veevaete would be one of them. A great artist knows how to create an image that will create thoughts or emotions in the head of the viewer.
There are quite a few art snobs out there - what is your view on the appreciation and consumption of art by all?
There is definitely a lack of education regarding art. Art and the power of art should be taught to children at a very young age. We all need to visit galleries and museums with our children and make them understand that art is not a cold world and that it’s alright not to love or understand everything. And even if it doesn’t seem like it, art can also be something affordable, and/or a great investment. Art can be something that you love and will be able to share forever.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
A great man sees women as his equals.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Live your own truth.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
The first person that comes to mind is Jeff Buckley. I have been a huge fan of his for years. I never got to see him in concert—he died too young. His voice and songs move me every time. I would definitely spend a couple of days with him and is guitar.
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
My website sandrachevrier.com
At the moment I am working on different things (group shows) at the same time. But mostly I am concentrating on an important production (hand carved and hand painted pieces) for an upcoming show at Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York City, opening on June 27th, 2015. See you all there!
See similar Features here ...