Michel Dumont is a queer Metis two spirited artist. He currently resides in Thunder Bay. He enjoys breathing new life into discarded vintage tile by making mosaic faux taxidermy. He also works in wearable art, using packing tape, mylar, cellophane and LED lights.
He’s shown at Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections at the John B. Aird in Toronto, and the Queer and Peace Vernissage, Dawson College, Montreal.
Carrie: When did you first realize the importance of art in your life?
When I was 10 years old, I won a Canadian Legion art competition, first prize, was a flora and fauna encyclopedia. I depicted the royal family for Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee. It was the first time I realized that my artwork garnered praise. And then I had a print exhibited at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa in Gr. 8, which I realized that not many other people could accomplish this, that I saw the world slightly different from other people.
Carrie: How would you describe your art?
My faux taxidermy uses woodland animal forms, often vintage, out-of-fashion, using angry open mouths that was historically popular as a hunting trophy, with “angry beast” imagery. With my application of hand carved tile, I rehabilitate these aggressive forms using floral forms, bright colors, queer and indigenous imagery.
I call my collection of wearable art, ‘Queer Cosplay’. It takes elements of gay culture, for example BDSM faux leather outfits, and my series of drag queen and hyper queen dresses.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Well to the untrained eye, one would say its a hoard. (ha!) I’m a disabled artist, so my workspace is frequently my dining room table, for my wearable art, I set up my sun porch as my mosaic studio,where I chop and grind tile.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
Frequently I sketch an idea, and then I work from that sketch. From there I follow the creative flow, going where it takes me. I hit that zen sweet spot for hours at a time, and it distracts me from my back injury.
Carrie: How do you know when an artwork is finished?
What I typically do, is take photographs of its progression, and post them to social media, where I then review the project, revising it, fixing mistakes etc. It allows me to stand back and review the work.
Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?
I’ve learned over time to trust my design, and have the confidence now to put myself out there and risk success. There are times when I can get stumped, but then i have to trust the initial design and carry it through to completion.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
Starting off with a good design is key. Sometimes I divert with another projects, but usually its problem solving my way through whatever stumbling block I may encounter. Putting the photos I’ve taken during the process on my big screen television, allows me to step back, see the macro and problem solve
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
Dealing with multiple chemical sensitivity. I had to modify by choosing mosaic tile, and replacing toxic silicon glues, with less toxic adhesives thereby enabling me to achieve success in my chosen medium. I also chose packing tape as a medium for the wearable art for the low toxicity of its adhesive.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?
A greater understanding of my cultures: French,Ojibwe, queer, disabled. At one time, earlier in my career, I was told not to identify as aboriginal or queer, because these identities were considered ‘marginal’ and would be less appealing to a larger public. However, now the zeitgeist has changed; and the intersections of these identities now give me a broader appeal to the larger public.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Positive feedback from social media is instrumental in giving me the confidence to keep creating. That and the dollar store (hahaha).
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Queer culture inspires my wearable art, that added layer of protection between me and homophobia, it’s sort of like a glittery armor. The spikes allude to the sharp tongue a queen has needed to defend herself.
Loosely speaking, historically, the term artist had more strict definitions. Thankfully with a younger generation, people are seeing the artistry in craft. There’s still the old guard of curator and gallery owners that see my wearable art and mosaics as simply craft. But there’s a new breed of gallerists who recognise a vision, and a point of view, and the medium is not strictly defined as painting or sculpture. As Ru Paul puts it: “There are many colours in the crayon box”
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