A&E » Arts

Vancouver artist's monsters take over Scotia Creek Gallery

Claudia Segovia's mixed media exhibit is running March 12 – 26



Claudia Segovia's monsters jump out from her canvas.

"I work from a place where I don't plan what I'm going to be painting," says the multi-talented visual artist and choreographer from her Vancouver home. "I don't say, 'Oh I'm going to make a three-legged dog with horns and bunny tails.' I don't have a plan, basically, which has been the only way for me to be able to feel that (my work) is truly, honestly coming from inside of me."

Segovia's stream-of-consciousness creative process has resulted in pieces that are crammed to the edges with bright, bold colours. Her creatures posses big, round eyes, bumps, lumps, multiple legs, coiled tails or whatever other appendages strike her in the moment.

Starting with a vivid background, she forms her monsters by picking out shapes that pop out. "I either circle them or make a shape around it," she says. "Then when that's done I take a step back and look at it and I see, let's make this a body and a head."

Around three years ago new inspiration struck: Segovia realized her 2D critters would translate well into 3D plush monsters. Using scraps of fabric she began to sew stuffed animals (which she calls stuffies) with colours, textures and shapes that matched the paintings.

"At some point I got bored with doing the same thing and one day I was thinking, 'I need to invent a different monster because I don't want to repeat the same thing again,'" she says. "I was always staring at the paintings and I thought, 'Why don't I make a stuffie?'"

The monsters — on sale along with the paintings on Granville Island — were also a hit with the young dancers she teaches at Arts Umbrella. Last year, Segovia choreographed a dance based on the children's book Knuffle Bunny, complete with dancers clutching homemade bunnies.

"We designed the bunny on paper. I cut out the patterns and cut out the bunny and I gave it to them in a kit. They went home and sewed their own bunny. It looks like one of my creatures. It's inevitable, I guess. I think everything I do is related," she says.

Raised in Mexico by parents who worked as chemists and brain researchers and dabbled in dance and music during their spare time, Segovia studied dance at the National Centre for the Arts in Mexico City and then earned a diploma in fine arts and graphic design at Emily Carr University. With family still living in Mexico, she has also been able to sell her work in that country, as well across the Lower Mainland.

"I don't go (to Mexico) often myself because I'm usually fairly busy. I have two children and three dogs and I teach constantly," she says, while the pups bark on cue in the background. "I send my paintings. I have a younger sister who's my agent in Mexico... My dad is also very into the arts. There was a show in the town where he lives as well. He wanted to take some of my stuff there."

Next up, Segovia will show her work at a solo show in Whistler at Scotia Creek Gallery March 12 until the 26. The exhibit will feature 20 to 25 pieces, including small-scale drawings she's never shown before.

Whether it's drawings, paintings or plush monsters, it isn't until after Segovia is done creating that she tries to glean meaning from her work.

"When you're making art you're expressing that thing that's coming from inside you that you may or may not be conscious of yet," she says. "I try to explain to myself what the meaning of that painting is to me."

One example is a large piece called "Chronos," featuring a creature that Segovia interpreted as looking like time. "I just realized at that point in my life that my children are getting older, I have aging parents... All of my friends have aging parents, their kids are getting a little older," she says. "It might not be clear when you see the painting, but it's a universal concept."