Tiffany Howe

Tiffany Howe is a multidisciplinary artist who creates mixed media paintings, sculptures, earrings, textile, and installation art using recycled materials, found objects, photography, lasers, design, tech, and whatever resources she can get her hands on. Her creative vision is based on finding potential in materials while exploring themes of nostalgia, body dysmorphia, inspiration overload, chronic pain, and anthropomorphism.
She was raised in the village of Haliburton, Ontario, Canada and currently resides there in a heritage building on the same street she grew up on. Serendipitously, her home and studio are in what was previously an iconic general store she frequented as a child.
Locally, she is an award-winning artist and teacher, an inspiration coach, performer and model, and is curator at the Ethel Curry Gallery where she has worked for over 15 years.
She studied at Sheridan College in Art Fundamentals and Craft & Design, various programs at the Haliburton School of Art + Design and continues to expand her skills on a regular basis. Raised by crafty, licensed tradesperson parents, she’s been a life-hack/DIY expert all her life, employing practical hands-on skills to anything and everything and attributes most of her accolades over her 22-year-long creative career to this fact above most of her formal education and professional experience.
She recently had a “spiritual awakening” (or complete life overhaul if you prefer…) deciding to only make art that feeds her soul, helps her release/manage pain, celebrates the restlessness of her hyperactive brain, or makes her laugh.


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Artist Statement

I’ve written a lot of artist statements that go on about using found objects and recycled materials in order to divert them from landfills. I’ve rattled on about investigating a reconciliation between our compulsion to keep nostalgic belongings vs. our wasteful, disposable society. These are themes that will always influence my work. But now, I really wanna play. I can’t stop dickin’ around with this sloppy concoction I invented – seeing what random and obscure items I can coat in it and what they’ll look like once I’ve “fossilized” them. I have two themes clanging around up top that aren’t obviously related if you don’t live in my brain: Making silly, funny, creepy, strange sculptures out of all the materials and found bric a brac, and making sculptures and paintings that are self portraits about my experience as a woman-wacko-overthinky-overwhelmed artist. Some are about my physical pain and borderline body dysmorphia… others are about drowning in my own ideas, because there are an insane number of projects I want to make. Like, way way waaayyy too many ideas to actually accomplish in one life.

For all the years I’ve been an artist, writing “proper” artist statements has been a huge struggle. They always sound dry or contrived. And I don’t think I get all my points across in a way that’s compelling to read. I want you to be COMPELLED! And then give me money and paid exhibitions because you’re so into what I’m up to!

So, here, I tell you all – I am taking my art WAY too seriously while simultaneously making fun of it and taking nothing seriously.

For the foreseeable future I’m just gonna be making some weird shit and documenting the fuck out of it.

If you’re into it – peek at my Instagram account. That’s where I show all the shenanigans and process and progress.

Below is one of my artist statements from a couple years ago. It’s still totally relevant, just, like I said, maybe a bit dry in relation to how much I laugh when I’m actually creating. But I do care about it a lot so give it a read if you’re up for it.

Thanks for taking a moment here with me rambling.

Artist Statement 2020

My gift and affliction in life is the ability to see potential in things.

Many years ago, I learned how devastating the denim industry was on natural water systems, and how cotton farming used remarkably high amounts of harmful chemical pesticides, and so I began exploring ways to divert jeans from landfills by making them into interesting or beautiful things.

Our capitalist/commercial society’s complicity with planned obsolescence and fast fashion irritates me because they destroy ecosystems, cause harm to the earth’s natural environments, and create illness in humans globally. We currently live in an extremely dangerous time of the Anthropocene. I am compelled to prevent things from becoming refuse: to see obscure beauty in trash and transform it into art.

Meanwhile, people hold similar emotional attachments to inanimate objects and living beings.
We go to great lengths to keep insentient belongings with us- to travel with them, preserve them, make memories with them. They have no feelings and the purpose they serve is ephemeral, yet we cling to them, squirrel them away and love them. This behaviour has driven me to attempt to reconcile the gap between wastefulness and the impulse to hold onto nostalgia by keeping recognizable elements of the original materials in my pieces.

I invented an acrylic paint/medium based concoction that allows me to manipulate, coat, and seal recycled denim as well as many other recycled and natural found objects. I use this method to merge my skills as a multidisciplinary artist to paint, draw, sew, print, digitally manipulate imagery, apply technology, sculpt, mould, and assemble; re-examining each as they bond to one another in unifying layers visually and conceptually. It is important to me to demonstrate that by applying cross-disciplinary skills, we can find inspiration and applications to reuse things.

When I look at a pair of jeans I dissect them into categories of salvageable fabric yardage, shapes that resemble familiar imagery, strings that will become reeds and grass, strips that look like flags, buildings, wires for birds to sit on and gnarly bits that will smush into amazing textures.
The motifs in textile stitchery are comforting. Sealing denim in paint gives it a feeling of being cast in plaster or bronze. It gives it a permanence that somehow outweighs its emphemerality and glorifies the nostalgia making it exciting for people to recognize where it came from.

It has become an obsession to see what else I can do with this seemingly inexhaustible resource and to attempt to understand how people can be emotionally attached to certain inanimate objects yet throw away so many others without abandon. If the world could look at garbage the way that I do; impulsively trying to find ways to transform or upcycle it, we could start to solve the oxymoron global issue of resource scarcity in some places and overwhelming amounts of litter and overflowing landfills in others.

I want there to be hope for this world. The idea that nature and man-made things can coexist and compliment each other feeds my inspiration, driving me to find more ways to explore creation.