Interviewed by a local newspaper, a collector gives his impressions of Artist Alison Galvan and her work: “She laughs. Heartily, and often. It’s no wonder, the art she conceives is meant to elicit a smile.....That’s the crux of who she is and her art, to make people laugh, to be uplifting.”
Born in Vancouver, BC, Canada Alison was always somewhat of a rebel (often with a cause, but more often than not, without one!). Horrifying her far more traditional parents with wild outfits of her own creation, Alison’s burgeoning artistic talents lay in home economics, drama, and creative writing classes, subjects decidedly askew of “normal” academia. Completing high school Alison knew that “regular” university was not where she belonged and instead signed on for a one year program with a local independent college to study fashion design. While there Alison studied the history of Fashion and in so doing learned that many of the designers of which she admired had attended Parsons School of Design in New York City. Having already proclaimed to her parents that either she was moving out on her own, or going away to school, applying to Parsons seemed like an ideal 2 for 1 solution.
19 years old and moving to Manhattan, was a huge eye opener, and it was during her Foundation year in New York that Alison, exposed for the first time to the life and culture of the fine art world, discovered her two great passions, colour, and sculpture. “Form and Space class, something I had never done before, quickly became my favourite, but Colour Theory was a definite close second.” Alison recalls.
Encouraged by her professors, Alison traveled abroad for her sophomore year to Paris, France, continuing her artistic studies at Parson’s sister school and the American University in Paris. “We were living the dream,” Alison recollects, “going to school in Paris and traveling by train from one side of Europe to the other during holidays and school breaks. It was all so wonderfully Bohemian!”
In the spring of 1993 Alison graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design and left New York, heading back home to Vancouver with entrepreneurial ideas swirling about in her head. Hitting the ground running, Alison created her own children’s wear design company called Alioops. Children’s wear being a natural fit with Alison’s creative penchant for bright bold colour and playful humorous style.
Business grew quickly and Alison’s line was distributed from Vancouver, BC on Canada’s West Coast to Toronto, Ontario in Canada’s East, but rapidly Alison’s disillusionment with the Fashion Industry began to grow. Working a year in advance, Alison’s customer base was expanding, but come deliver day, and many of the retailers were no longer in business or, those that were, were unable to pay. “The risks were becoming more and more significant in comparison to the size of the reward,” she remembers. It did not take long to determine that this was not what she had bargained for.
Stepping back to reflect upon what the next chapter in her life might be, Alison, who has always found solace in travel, took a trip to New Orleans, and there, while drifting down the Mississippi River she met her future husband. Two months later in the Philippines Alison was married and spent the next 15 months living in and travelling throughout the Asian continent. “Everyone thought I was crazy! But for me living on the fly, experiencing new cultures, languages and customs, these are the things that inspire me!'
Now a mother of two, Alison began a new life using her artistic talents to homeschool her children and to teach art to other homeschooling families. It was while doing this that she stumbled upon a new product that ignited her enthusiasm for sculpture and painting once again. A versatile paper and gypsum composite, this new product called Sculptamold, when mixed with water, can be sculpted using an armature into free standing sculpture, or alternatively it can be used for bas-relief. Once dried, it can be painted with acrylics.
Purchasing Sculptamold to use for projects during art lessons, Alison experimented, playing and practicing with the children developing and refining her technique. “Originally I bought the product thinking that the kids would have great fun creating with it, but as we played, it was I that was getting more and more excited. I kept forgetting the time and that we still had math and social studies to do which of course my kids were happy to have me forget if that meant no “boring” history lesson that day!”
Homeschooling her children, Alison also found that she had a passion for storytelling. She experienced that the children were more attentive and involved in the lessons when she told stories from her life – the most popular, of course, were the ones in which something went horribly wrong, she got in trouble, or better yet, when she was a bit of a scalawag and got away with it! What Alison learned while working with her kids and other homeschooling families is that when she shares stories, and opens up, especially about embarrassing situations, people relate to that, and rather than pretending that these embarrassing, or silly situations didn’t happen, Alison brings it out into the open and laughs about it, laughs at herself and laughs at how seriously we take things. Having broken the ice, she finds that then others will also open up, relating their own stories, drawing audience and bard closer as friends, as family, and as a community.
Drawing upon her travel experience in which she interacted with different people and their cultures, her past history in the fashion industry, working with the figure and using colour, line and shape to enhance the body, her study and experimentation in 3 dimension and her skill in the art of telling tales, Alison has developed her work into her own unique style of narrative vignette, boldly coloured in childlike tones and shades, mirroring and accentuating the childlike playful attitude of laughing at the irony, hypocrisy or pretense that is being acted out in the panel.
“Connecting with my audience and getting beyond pretense gives me satisfaction. There is nothing I enjoy more than to watch people looking upon my work with a knowing smile, seeing their inner gears working reliving a past experience, and laughing at it.”
Now having moved across Canada to live in St. Catharines, Ontario, and becoming a member of the Canadian Sculpture Society as well as joining several local art groups, Alison has thrown herself into her art career building upon her past experiences and experimentations and creating a body of work that is in collections ranging as far away as Finland to collections and gallery exhibitions both in Canada and the United States. Her work is recognized and sought after for its whimsical humour and ability to lift the energy in a room and get people talking. In short, Alison Galvan’s “Chubby Art”, as she calls it, makes a statement.
Work of Artists Gallery - Scottsdale Mall, Phoenix, AZ
Xanadu Gallery - 7039 East Main St. Suite #101 Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Group Show - Ka-Pow! Comic Art & Storyboarding St. Charles, Missouri July 28th, 2012 - September 7th, 2012
Group Show Art on Water 2012, Wellend, Ontario June 2012
Group Show, Awakenings 2012, LucSculpture School & Studios Toronto, Ontario April 17-28th, 2012
Finalist, Inspired Art 2012 competition hosted by Studio 1219 in Port Huron, MI.
Commissioned by Dirty Runner Productions to create four paintings for their Spring 2012 running event entitled “The Chocolate Race”. Alison displayed her work in a solo exhibition during the race as Guest Artist.
Thanksgiving 2011, Solo exhibition held in The Studio Basement in Southern Ontario’s Wine Region.
Summer 2011, commissioned by the St. Catharines Art Association to sculpt the “Mascot” for their 60th Anniversary Show & Sale.
As a member of the St. Catharines Art Association, Niagara Artists Association, Community Artist Niagara, and The Niagara Pumphouse Artist Centre, Alison participates regularly in local group shows.
Originally from Vancouver, BC, Alison earned her BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York, NY & Paris, France. Traveling the globe & living in India, & the Philippines, Alison now making St. Catharines, Ontario home.