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Miya Turnbull is a multi-disciplinary artist, working in a variety of mediums including mask making, painting, printmaking, felting and animation. She grew up on a third generation family farm in Alberta but has lived in Halifax since 2002. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge in 1999 and lived in Montreal for 2 years before finally settling down in Nova Scotia. She has exhibited her artwork in solo and group exhibits here in Halifax and also across Canada. She has facilitated youth oriented visual art workshops through schools and arts organizations in Nova Scotia since 2003. She has received three grants from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage which has allowed her to continue to develop and present her work. For the past few years, she has taken some time away from the art world to raise her daughter, but has continued to work at her home studio whenever she can. She enjoys volunteering at a local school, helping the kids do arts and crafts and make projects for fundraising.
I have been exploring the theme of identity through mask making, dolls, video work, collage and projections. This has fostered a continuing examination of my cultural identity and individuality throughout my work. Ranging from representational to distorted, I challenge common perceptions and stereotypes by revealing, concealing and manipulating my own image. My PhotoMasks combine contemporary mask making techniques with current technology and photo-realism to slightly alter a traditional art form to produce unique creations. These masks can be seen as three dimensional Self-Portraits which can be worn or displayed. I utilize both the exterior and interior (concave) space of the mask to represent both our ego and our subconsciousness. I also create animations with the masks which I then project back onto white masks in order to make the animations three dimensional or holograph-like.
My paintings, photographs and felted work embody the simplicity and beauty of nature, organic form and spirituality and are a study of colour, shape and movement. My “Ki” series of paintings are acrylic or watercolour on canvas or paper, overlaid with ink blowing and pen work. Ki, in Japanese, translates to Universal life force (also known as Chi or Prana), and these paintings are symbolic of this energy which permeates all living things.
My more recent works have been flip book making, felting and silkscreening. I’ve been documenting my daughter’s life so far in way too many photos, but also more interestingly, in short videos that I make into little flip books and since then taking my own stop motion animations and making flip books of those. I also got into needle felting so I could make her little toys and then that developed into learning wet felting and creating ‘paintings’ with fleece that are strongly influenced by my ‘Ki’ paintings. I’ve also learned how to silkscreen and have been taking my designs and printing them onto handmade bags and paper as well as clothing. My latest work has been silkscreening select designs from my paintings directly onto feathers and framing within a shadow box.