With Black History Month upon us, we’re celebrating by sharing stories and voices from the Black community, highlighting the incredible work of some of our partners in the arts, music and food spaces.
This week, we’re spotlighting Malik McKoy, a multimedia artist based in Ajax, Ontario.
Straddling the line between analog and digital, Malik attempts to create a visual world that lives across both practices. The subject matter of the work is a reflection of the banal qualities of where he is currently based, while translating it with a vibrant and playful lens, a theme seen in his art piece botanist, a 3D generated and animated GIF on loop on display at The Drake Hotel Lobby Bar, which depicts a creature watering a whimsical garden of smiling flowers.
His work is featured in this year’s Momenta Biennale in Montreal and was also featured in public screenings as part of Artworx TO with InterAccess and Toronto Animated Image Society. He’s currently an artist in residence at The Robert Mclaughlin Gallery and will have his work in the upcoming group exhibition Lose Your Illusion at Ignite Gallery.
We chatted with Malik about his upcoming projects, the artists inspiring him right now, and learned more about his piece botanist. Keep up with Malik on Instagram here.
+ What are you working on right now personally and professionally that has you excited?
Right now I am an artist in residence at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa. I am creating a new series of paintings with a process that integrates both my digital and analog practice. I’m exploring new forms and ways of composing through this new process, and I can’t wait to see what I’ll have produced by the end of my first residency. That exhibition that follows afterwards will be my first solo show, so I’m really excited about that.
+How do you conceive of your fantastical creatures and the environments they live?
The creature seen in botanist was actually something I thought of in a screen printing class during my time at OCAD. I wanted a character that didn’t require many layers of ink, was simple in shape, but also cute to look at. Having that in mind, I drew the plushy body and gave it a visor to personify it in a mysterious way. I liked it so much that I ended up using the character in many of my digital works afterwards.
In regards to the environments they frequent, it kind of stems from a random thought and grows from there. I usually think of mundane environments like bedrooms and gardens and think of ways to make them feel fantastical but still tactical.
+ What Toronto artists are inspiring you right now?
A few Toronto-based artists that inspire me include Curtia Wright, Oreka James, and Natalie King. I enjoy all of their work. As fellow OCAD alumni who have proceeded to do amazing things in their career, it serves as a reminder that I can carve a path for myself as well.
+ What change would you like to see in your industry when it comes to Black representation?
I’d like to see more Black artists represented, and I feel like we’re getting there. I hope that we reach a place where curated art from Black artists is widely diverse in terms of style, tone, presentation, mediums, etc. I’d also like to see more Black people in administrative positions.
+ What tools have helped you along your journey?
Perseverance is an important tool. It allows you to learn from failures and rejections and improve for the next attempt. This trait was absolutely instrumental to my journey. Another trait is confidence. Confidence allowed me to put my work out there to be noticed with little to no fears.