Jasmine Gui is an interdisciplinary artist and editor living in Toronto. Her primary medium is experimental paper arts as one half of the creative duo, jabs.
Jasmine and artistic partner, Abby Ho, completed a residency at Art Starts that used paper as a medium in conversation — a project they called ‘Transference’.
We’ve connected with Jasmine to discuss her practice during the pandemic and what tools she uses for self-expression and starting important conversations.
How has Covid affected your artistic practice?
Mostly access to studio time and time with my creative partner Abby. We haven’t been able to meet as often and our artistic practices are very much a dialogic process.
How have you adapted?
I’ve been working on a few digital projects that are extended iterations of some of the physical, material mediums I’ve been experimenting with, in the studio.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a digital mixed media collage project that includes elements of blackout poetry, found text and image, and also gif-making.
I am also working on a large mixed media chrysanthemum piece on canvas, although that’s a bit delayed due to the lockdown.
How can the arts help people with the isolation and uncertainty they are feeling right now?
I wouldn’t necessarily want to prescribe the role of the arts in isolation and uncertainty. At least for me, my artistic practice is grounded in having relations with the self as whole, and also with an external world whether it be through concepts, mediums or materials.
I think that slowing time down in a qualitative manner helps me a lot when trying to hold uncertainty or anxiety.
My process-oriented practice also allows me to feel free from the burden of having to produce for an ends. It becomes instead a dialogue with questions like, “What do I care about?”, “What do I need to get from here to wherever it is I want to be next, or want to do next with this material?”, “How do these things react to time, to different environments, moods and contexts?” etc. These questions are very grounding for me, and keep me present in times where I feel restless, anxious or frustrated.
As a community arts facilitator, how can you use arts to spark conversations?
I think a thoughtful use of an arts medium in community arts facilitation should open up pathways for people to feel they can express themselves in a way that feels natural and comfortable to them.
This allows for people who feel overwhelmed or inept in general conversational structures to explore new language for themselves whether that be visual, tactile, abstract, bodied, rhythmic or a combination thereof. New space to build new language might help narrow the gaps that people feel in conversations they’re already having, or it could also expose gaps that they didn’t know were there.
For anyone wanting to experiment with art and creative expression, what is one project they could start with?
I teach blackout poetry for folks who want to dabble in the poetic form but are afraid of text or the concept of poetic writing. The simple act of taking away words with a black sharpie from a preexisting text might not sound like “the writing process” to many people, but ultimately, all forms of artistic practice are about making a series of decisions or choices. The more mature the artist, the more intentional and comfortable they are navigating what sometimes feels like an infinite amount of choices that lead to places they can’t necessarily see or grasp just yet. Something simple like blackout poetry allows aspiring or curious folk to get a sense of what choice-making looks like, with relatively set and small parameters because there is a limited amount of text on the page, so decisions are finite.
How do you use art to express yourself? What do you feel needs to be said right now?
My art practice is an externalized process of thinking. I think when people engage with my work they encounter a season of thought being methodically and relentlessly untangled. The disentangling might not lead to greater clarity, but it is as much as possible, an honest process for me. On that note, perhaps what I would want to say in times like this is “It’s okay to be where you are. Take time to know the things in you that have taken you this far.”