Bold and whimsical and displayed atop the Glass Box, Slovak-Canadian artist Nicole Beno’s Suspended Flora is the latest show-stopping piece of art at Drake Devonshire.
Composed of inflatable mushroom shapes and printed with eye-catching, fantastical patterns, the art piece began as an ongoing study during the pandemic when the artist was using what she had on hand to create artwork.
Picking wildflowers from the alleys and corners of her neighbourhood became her ritual, and she described it as a way of “documenting and capturing the fleeting beauty of change.” The wildflowers were then scanned, distorted and collaged into new worlds caught between imagination and reality.
We chatted with the artist to learn about her art process, inspiration and the unique way she combines analog and digital in her art.
+ How would you describe your practice in two sentences?
It’s a mixture of using collage, digital image-making tools, found objects and textures to create these digital landscapes that feel both analog and digital.
I tend to layer and mix in a lot of graphical elements and pieces with photography and textures. I also use the same computer programs that I use as a graphic designer to create artwork, but in my arts practice I’m more interested in using these tools the wrong way.
+ Much of your work, like Suspended Flora, transforms natural materials and found objects by scanning, distorting, collaging. What draws you to combining analog and digital in your art?
I’m interested in how I can make the hand visible in my computer-generated work–like how I can show the imperfections, textures–almost like resisting the flatness of the computer. When creating these digital/analog compositions, I tend to create a visual world that displays a version of reality that doesn’t actually exist, a surface that can be seen but not felt that’s caught somewhere in between the computer and the hand – the digital and the analog. I like when the viewer isn’t quite sure what’s fully going on in the artwork, but understands bits and pieces that draw them in…I hope that this makes the work more engaging and adds more depth to the work.
+ The wildflowers in the art piece were picked by you, and the habit, in your own words, became a way to document the “fleeting beauty of change,” in what ways are you yourself changing as an artist?
I really want to dive more into motion, and sometimes I feel like it’s hard to capture the feeling of these flora experiments with still images. I can imagine creating large video installations where you could step into these flora worlds and get to see all the details and close textures as they move around.
+ What upcoming projects (professional or personal) have you excited for the months ahead?
I’m going to try and take a bit of a break this summer from commercial work (if I can!) and spend more time in the studio working on personal projects and explorations. I miss screen printing so maybe I’ll do that again…I just like getting my hands dirty and getting off of the computer.
+ Who are some other artists inspiring you right now?
I recently travelled to Mexico and I fell in love with the country. Really into the handmade designs from rrres studio in Oaxaca and so many more.
Canadian artists Sara Cwynar and Michelle Bui’s photography work is always very inspiring, and I love London-based Maisie Cousin’s grotesque but beautiful photography. This is just to name a few!