Total Stunning Serious

Isabel Data

Artist Statement

“Camp is extravagant-play-for-serious ends”
– Karl Keller

I found this quote printed above a photograph of an amusement park hat designed by Philip Treacy, complete with a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, within the CAMP: Notes on Fashion catalogue which I had purchased on a trip to New York in 2019. Little did I know this would be the last trip I would go on due to a global pandemic that has left many feeling a bit stir-crazy, but more than anything, feeling anxious. I have now grown well-acquainted with my coffee table catalogue (and the Sontagian essay it derives from), and it has shown me how to fall in love with all things campy, kitsch, and downright silly.

Total Stunning Serious originates from my love of kitsch and the necessity of escapism from the overwhelming stress of the lockdown, allowing me to paint fully from my subconscious as an attempt to offload the stresses that I couldn’t handle. As of now, the series has challenged how I consider composition, colour, mark-making, and scale in ways I had not initially set out to explore, and while still having fun. Inspired from a variety of reference sources (such as film, luxury fashion, social media, etc.), my works snap a metaphorical photograph of what’s on my mind at a given time and transform into a visual curation of my mind, which hopefully one day sneak into someone else’s psyche.

Hello Froggy!, 2020, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 18 in. x 24 in.

Pond-Skater Chic, 2020, Oil on canvas, 36 in. x 30 in.

Chicken-Kitsch, 2021, Oil on canvas, 36 in. x 30 in.
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Spit’s Crusade, 2020, Oil and pencil on canvas, 16 in. x 20 in.

There was a time around the end of 2020 where either more people were becoming interested in antique, kitsch home decor, or I had maybe become fixated on recognizing these ceramic relics of the ’70s. Either way, once I noticed I never stopped. Born out of browsing online and second-hand stores, and spending a bit too much time on Youtube was Spit, the Furby-Barbie toy-of-nightmares, on his noble porcelain cat.

The Jungle, 2021, Acrylic, flashe and oil on canvas, 60 in. x 48 ⅛ in.

Award Recipient

  • Landon Mackenzie Graduation Award for Visual Arts

Isabel Data

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Isabel (Izzy) Data is a 21-year-old emerging artist from Calgary, Alberta, based on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in so-called Vancouver, British Columbia. Primarily working in oil and acrylic painting, her practice investigates notions of memory, sentimentality, and anxiety through humourous and playful aesthetics. She has a further practice in drawing, textile-based sculpture, and performance work. Come say hi! :)
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