Pamela Masik is an artist I wanted to interview for quite a long time. When Schon Magazine offered me the opportunity to write on her, I was delighted. After scheduling a time to meet, I started to do a little internet research and was surprised at the lack of information out there. Most was centred around the controversy surrounding The Forgotten and it seemed very biased and incomplete. This left me with a deep sense of curiosity and I wasn't disappointed. On the average, I end up with 5-8 pages of material to work from. My time with her produced over 11. I couldn't have asked for a more open and honest interview.
Art for Masik is a deep expression that comes from the very core of her being. "I use whatever I am feeling to push me to express. I need to express." Each series has a message which is conveyed through several different mediums - painting, live performance, sculpture, photography, etc., and she gives 110% of herself to the process of creation. Long hours are spent in the studio. "Someone said to me you're talented and I said I work hard. I need to be in the studio, it's an obsession. I get to the studio and even if I'm tired, I just love being here." Concepts can come together quickly or take several years to get exactly right. What I found most amazing walking around her 14,000 sq. ft. studio after our interview was that she could work on multiple canvases (currently over 50) and sculptures at the same time. There seems to be an innate intuition that guides her.
Part of our interview dealt with Masik's series - The Forgotten. I was very dissatisfied with what I found in the media and wanted to know more. She has sometimes been viewed as coming from privilege, but this is far from the truth. Her beginnings were humble. She was exposed to violence and abuse from a young age and has struggled with the concept of self-worth. After delving into the destructive rock-n-roll lifestyle for a few years, she realized it was time to walk away. "I had been in a dark place and I had to work through all that. I had to learn to value myself." Choices over the next three years were made that allowed her to heal body and soul, to accept that she was worthy and that she had something important to say. Expression through art was a part of this process. There was a defining moment when she realized, "I had a little piece of gold in my pocket because I understood how art can heal."
The Forgotten is now a part of a foundation with plans in the works to take it to Ottawa. A feature film documentary following Masik's 5 year journey to create this series is due to be released in 2012. The entire purpose behind this collection is and always has been to improve the lives of those in the community. Fund raising efforts will be a part of every show. Included in the foundation's long-term goals is a special fund for the 77 children who are motherless to provide them opportunities and help open the doors on a better life. Masik also currently runs an 8 week arts program for women at UGM where women are offered that "little piece of gold" for their own pocket - the knowledge that art can heal. She will shortly have the pleasure of announcing that this part-time course is to be come a permanent art program.
When Masik conceives a new series, it isn't with commercial success in mind, but to convey a message she feels driven to express. The Forgotten, Requiem. Engagement, The Caged Bird and a series soon to be released call The Hunt all challenge us to look at these messages on a personal level. They are each books in a career that is sure to produce many volumes.