Manon Labrosse 2015 Winner of the Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts

#CouncilSpotlight – Manon Labrosse

Julia Salven and Jennifer Clark

The Ottawa Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations through leadership, guidance and the provision of opportunities to advance our local creative potential.

Our new series ‘Council Spotlight’ presents stories and experiences of Arts Council members and art award recipients. We are proud to share our very first story with you.

Manon Labrosse: Working Without Limitations

Manon Labrosse  2015 Winner of the Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts

Where are you from? Are you from the Ottawa area?

ML: I am originally from Hearst, which is a small town about 12 hours northwest of Ottawa. I’ve been in Ottawa since I completed my BFA at the University of Ottawa.

How did you get involved in the Ottawa arts community?

ML: After my studies, I worked in a few galleries and did various independent contracts in art administration. I was fortunate to have some of my work in Art Rental at the Ottawa Art Gallery right after graduation and then found representation at another Ottawa gallery a few years later.

Aside from exhibiting, there are also a lot of great organizations you can get involved with to stay connected. As a Franco-Ontarian artist, I became a member of BRAVO and have always stayed connected with the Ottawa Arts Council. Being active in the arts community creates connections, some of them leading to opportunities.

How would you describe your art?

ML: I am a painter and paint mainly landscapes that are somewhat abstract. I like to use colours with a lot of contrast in order to create an effect of light and darkness. The wilderness is a huge influence, from growing up in Northern Ontario, and from current experiences like hiking and travelling.

My current exhibition draws influences from literature and movies. Although my works are completely fictional, every part of every painting is taken from a collection of photos accumulated from various hikes, as well as a creative residency in Algonquin Park.

What impact has your involvement with the arts and the Ottawa arts community had on your life?

ML: My involvement with the arts in Ottawa has given me an awareness of what and who the arts community is in the Ottawa and Outaouais region. This comes in handy when you are representing the community on something like a jury, where you have to remain objective, but also must be knowledgeable.

Is there a specific moment/situation in your art career that you remember fondly?

ML: I think every moment contributes something vital to where I am right now. I have had various levels of involvement, success and opportunities and every one of them has shaped my career. Considering all the challenges I’ve had, what I’m the most happy about is that I kept going.

Do you have any advice for artists in the Ottawa community or artists in general?

ML: Being in the arts isn’t always easy, and I have learned to be thankful for the experiences and connections I’ve made so far. I try to be as honest and true to myself as I can be. I would say that, at the end of the day, you have to decide how you want to be perceived as an artist and who you’re doing this for.

I’m in the arts because I can’t see myself doing anything else. I try to do what makes me happy, which means accepting challenges and creating work that is honest and without limitations.

What are you currently working on?

My most recent project, How to Paint Death According to Lucy (Comment peindre la mort d'après Lucie), was featured at Axenéo7 with Jillian McDonald in Gatineau. It was an exhibition of paintings and a wall installation including a custom wallpaper. The work was inspired by a short story by Margaret Atwood titled "Death by Landscape" and considers the idea of metempsychosis and a world where nature rules over everything. It was also featured in a Canadian Art review.

What was it like to receive an award from the Ottawa Arts Council? How did it impact your career?

ML: In 2015, I received the Ottawa Arts Council's Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts Award. The grant allowed me to rent equipment for a project that required high-quality video and sound recordings. I highly encourage Ottawa artists to present projects for the any of the Council's grants, prizes and awards, because you never know what will happen and they are fantastic for getting you started on projects, connecting with other artists and getting to know the Council and what they do.

Want to learn more about Manon and find out where you can see her work? Visit www.manon-labrosse.com or find Manon on Facebook @Labrosse.Manon and Instagram @mannon_labrosse.

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Nominations for the Ottawa Arts Council's Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts Award open February 2018.