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Home from the Odyssey: Artist returns to her Annex roots

November 23rd, 2010 · 1 Comment

Erica Brisson's latest work consists of line drawings inspired by the Toronto landscape. Courtesy Erica Brisson.

By Liivi Sandy

Every environment is a new palate to explore for artist Erica Brisson. The 27-year-old grew up in the Annex with the neighbourhood driving her creativity.

Erica has been on the road for eight years, studying art history and studio art at Concordia University in Montreal, and then working at the Banff Centre for the Arts. But now upon returning, her latest works explore the question: what has become of the community?

“I’m back, having been away for awhile and I’m interested in that question right now,” Erica says. “I’m seeing positive things that have popped up. I’m enjoying new things I’m seeing [since] being back, and I’m interested in reconsidering things I saw when I was younger.”

Her latest exhibit, “I’ll Look Around,” was a part of this year’s Queen West Art Crawl, and featured line drawings that Erica describes as a “poetic documentation of people and places from my everyday life in Toronto.”

“I’m perplexed by the visual cacophony of the city,” Erica says. “It’s bewildering.”

Courtesy Erica Brisson.

The artsy intellectual was curious about broadening her horizons from a young age. Attending Concordia University in Montreal allowed her to adopt the Francophone culture.

“I was living in French Montreal, meeting people from different places, encountering a culture you wouldn’t in Toronto. And then I was in Banff, the Wild West, meeting other artists in nature.”

Erica says her curiosity was similar to that of anyone in his or her early 20s, though her dedication provides an example of someone who is not only talented, but also wise beyond their years.

“I am continually impressed by Erica and her creative output, which she manages to keep focused yet dynamic, just like she is,” art critic Pandora Syperek said in an email.

“When I first met her I was surprised, not only by her level of achievement for such a young woman, but also by her eloquence and composure. I also learned that apart from being self-possessed and enterprising, Erica is kooky and a bit off the wall in a really fun way. I think it’s this combination that she brings to her creative projects.”

She was an active participant in the arts community while in Banff, always finding herself absorbed in one project or another.

Pandora was struck by the colouring party Erica had at the Banff Centre, where she let a bunch of friends “go wild” with markers on drawings she had made of inspirational 20th century women.

“It was great because it dispersed the emphasis from her as sole author of a lovely group of delicate line drawings to a communal forum where everyone was able to exercise their creativity without limits,” said Pandora.

Another quirky endeavour was Erica’s YouTube dance party, which consisted of people dancing to their favourite YouTube videos, projected and amplified.

But perhaps Erica’s idiosyncratic nature is best exemplified by her pointed disdain for the array of disjointed three-part windows that line some of Toronto’s streets. “For me, that is an example of a hideous window that is not functional … like a Cyclops eye. Maybe there was a supplier—it is everywhere.”

Creating an environment where community building becomes the focus seems to be tantamount to Erica’s work.

After art school in Montreal, working at the Banff Centre for the Arts, running a temporary art space in Calgary, and travelling throughout Europe, Erica is ready to be home. She is now sharing her ideas and talent with another artist collective called Friends of Churchill, a shared studio space project. The group has informal life drawing nights, where they work together and come up with fresh ideas.

“I grew up on Brunswick Avenue and it was fun to represent the neighbourhood,” Erica says. “You meet so many people and you meet people that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

Tags: Arts · People · General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Former Annex resident // Nov 24, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Great to hear of talented folk returning to the Annex. Seems like the community would love to have Erica around — thanks to the writer for a great little profile! I used to live in the Annex for many years and am contemplating a move back myself… miss those street lights on Palmerston and the cozy crunch of the snow on Howland, the morning after a storm. Kudos!