I first met Meky Ottawa at a 13 moons art show, produced by Kiki Harper and Emelle Rosa Massariol.
The show was comprised of many underground artists from many different paths. I was instantly drawn to Meky’s work. The duality captivating me. The humour used to drive home the obvious and painful truths of her time. They were masterfully simple, which only compounded their impact. Her message never lost in overwhelming displays of technical overdrive, instead it sat staring me in my face, commanding my comprehension and acceptance of its truth. I was drawn in by the balance and harmony of her conflicting techniques. Her works never pushing or pulling me, but rather embracing me throughout the experience, offering a simpler answer to the complexity of today’s questions; leaving me wondering, can it be this simple.
Art is not hard, nor unachievable, or beyond anyone.
Art is there, you only need have the courage to let it challenge everything you know.
I was fortunate to have an opportunity to speak to Meky about her work, and for this as well as her work and wisdom, I am grateful and humbled.
What is your relationship with your work and your process?
It’s a hate and love relationship. It depends, sometimes I have a good day of creative flow or sometimes my creativity is dead. My relationship with my work is the biggest part of my life. I also like to create ugly stuff on purpose; it’s always funny. The process is I am going to sit on my chair and work on my laptop with my Wacom pad in the living room. I listen to a lot of music when I create. Music is my biggest boost and inspiration. If I can’t create, I just stop, and wait. If my creativity is easy to find I can work hours and finish projects easily, but in the end I am always proud of what I want to show.
How do you feel about past works when revisiting them?
I do enjoy seeing old the stuff I created. I want to post more of my work on my social media. I used to post ‘’illustration of the day’’ but I don’t know why I don’t share so much these days. I like to share them sometimes. Sometimes I do several versions of an illustration just to be sure.
What’s your biggest motivator to create?
I always created since I was a baby. My mom knew I was going to do art. I always entertained my siblings and cousins so it’s in my blood hehe. I think I want to speak to the people through the things I produce. This is how I express myself and it’s kind of a therapy for me. I like to create things and go out of my comfort zone. Collaborations also are very important to me. I tell stories in animation for directors. I do also MC, but not the kind you think. I introduce artists on stage with funny little animation clips. In the past I did a lot of illustrations for articles. I like to create characters through my friends in photography with clothes and environments. I want to auto represent my nation and work with my nation. It’s about creating, giving sharing with native people.
Is this a response to your environment and your experiences?
I think I grew up with the way I do art. As a teenager with my siblings and my cousins and the camera of my mother we used to make home horror movies for fun. We used to do parodies music video and fake advertising (LOL). Right after we finished filming we used to do a little private screening at my grandma’s house and show it to the family. Today I am happy I can do my art and live from it. It’s still for fun because I love my job but it takes discipline because I have to be honest, sometimes I just want to enjoy life and do whatever I have in mind and it’s also the bridge between my work and the non-native communities. It’s my resistance. I never been to college or university; I am a self-taught artist, I faked it till I made it.
Do your ideas come to you complete or do they come partially completed and you build on them or refine them during the actual process of realizing them?
I think it depends on some projects. They come to me complete sometimes and sometimes they come partially and I build on them and refine them. Sometimes I start drawing without thinking and it’s always a surprise how far it can go.
How do these differing starting points challenge you?
The challenge sometimes is me, haha. I procrastinate and push the work to later. But once I have the workflow I can’t stop. I am also more productive during the night. Life is weird sometimes, I am more creative under pressure too. When a deadline is close, that’s where my survival creative mode is at it’s best.
What usually comes first, the message, or the image?
I think the images come with the message. I like to be silent on the concept because there are a lot of layers of information that can be interpreted in multiple ways. People that come to me and explain to me how they see my visuals is always interesting to me because they decode the messages in their own way. Otherwise sometimes I do things very clearly, like the humour stuff. That’s how our people survived, with humour.
Would you describe the realization of your works as a source of pleasure, or relief, or both?
It’s both for me, but depends how. I always say my favourite artist is myself and not to be an asshole, I love my art. It’s a relief because sometimes it’s hard to work with some clients, because of the restrictions that come with that. It’s kind of a pressure to please people that you absolutely don’t know. We are not obligated to love everything we see. Another side of the story is when I lack of creativity. It’s a relief when the final product is acceptable. I renamed the trash can in my computer ‘’ugly shit’’ and that’s where I put the shameful art pieces I don’t want anybody to ever see. But I am pretty lucky because some days I don’t see the hours go by because my imagination is like a open tap.
Finally what to you is the artists’ role in a community? And how do u feel about this or these roles?
I think it’s inspiring to see other native artists in the community. I love when I see successful native artists. It’s an important role. They inspire me and they inspire the younger generations and honour our cultures and ancestors by existing and doing art and sharing our stories. It’s important also to auto represent ourselves. That’s why I do what I do too.