We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Masker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I initially chose to pursue an artistic career because above all else, I felt compelled to create. During lectures in school I would always find myself drawing – keeping my hands moving helped me to concentrate on presentations and discussions, and at the same time I always felt a need to keep track of the many ideas that would pass through my mind throughout the day. My sketches would bookmark the concepts for me to return to at a later date when I could realize them into complete drawings or paintings. I wanted to dedicate as much of my time and energy as possible to creating art – it has always been more fulfilling to me than anything else.
As my creative process evolved I found myself creating for more than just myself. Through my subject matter and narratives I could create a vessel for others to project their own lives, identity, and stories, a tangible reflection or representation.
I find that over the past few years my body of work has matured and been refined. My paintings now depict a raw, honest perspective of trauma, mental illness, and queer identity – it is not only created for my own healing, but also both for people who can see themselves and feel represented within a piece and for those who can be educated on unfamiliar experiences and ideas. For nearly a decade now I have continued to push myself and test my limits, and even now I consistently strive to reach out of my comfort zone and push myself to develop my paintings even further.
My work allows me to work through traumatic events and overwhelming emotions throughout my life. It allows me to connect with others as they see themselves within the work or feel inspired by the creative process, and to feel part of a loving and supportive community. I pursue an artistic and creative career not just for my own healing and fulfillment, but for the opportunity to share these things with others as well.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been studying art for about 8 years now, and since high school I have consistently worked towards establishing connections with other artists, showing and selling work, honing my skills, and evolving my subject matter. Often, this hasn’t been easy, but my passion for creating has always kept me going. I take pride in how much my artistic practice has developed and how much I have accomplished. This past year I notably have had work accepted in 13 different publications, have shown work in both online and local exhibitions, and placed first in the Advanced category of Trekell Art Supplies’ annual pet portrait contest. I aspire to establish myself as a professional artist, selling and showing work, and engaging with the local community of countless other amazing creatives.
My passion for art history heavily influences my artistic practice. I am primarily inspired by 20th century Feminist art; Baroque paintings; Surrealist painters such as Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, and Dorothea Tanning; and ancient cultures such as the Greeks and Aztecs. Color palettes and aesthetics of 20th century design also fascinate me, including advertisements, interior design, and textile design.
I primarily work with oil paint and watercolor, and many of my works are self-portraits, with my body serving as a tool or metaphor to communicate events, emotions, transformations, and other turmoil I have grappled with. Often these “events” in my works are cryptic, symbolic, and constructed in a manner so that others may project their own stories or sentiments onto them. Above all, my work has always been cathartic, a coping mechanism, an escape into surrealist fantasy where emotions can be processed in secure and private spaces. It is my hope that this may be true for others that view my work as well.
My work documents self discovery and healing. The solace that I found in creating art brought me joy and fulfillment during a difficult and complicated period in my life, developing a dynamic visual timeline to complement complex events and an ever-changing state of mind.
As individuals, we may find comfort in encountering others that share similar experiences to us. Seeing and hearing such representation offers empowerment to people, to remind them that they are never alone and that their voices and experiences matter. By sharing my own personal narratives of mental illness, trauma, and life experiences as both a woman and a queer person, I hope that others may see my work and find a similar representation there. Art is one of the most powerful tools we have for comfort, and for change.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Two of my favorite ways to spend my time are visiting art museums and galleries, and going antiquing, so the core of my itinerary would be to visit these places. SMoCA, Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix Art Museum, antique malls in Mesa and Scottsdale – these are my most frequented ones. I tend to find a lot of inspiration from my visits. I’m always looking for new artists to see what others are doing (or have done in the past), looking for new ways of thinking and new points of view, observing the ways in which artists reference and interpret each other over time. I have always been drawn to art history as I find new ideas or motifs to interpret in my own way, and there is always some sort of reference to historical works or other artists in my paintings.
Similarly, going to antique malls is like window shopping for color palettes, designs, and motifs. My primary inspirations for color and design come from twentieth century design – from concert posters and album covers, to interior design, and clothes. When I feel like I’ve reached a moment of art block, going antiquing seems to refresh my mind.
In between visiting these places, I’d like to stop at some of my favorite places to eat or get coffee – Jarrod’s in Downtown Mesa and Copper Star in Downtown Phoenix are two of my top choices – and relax at a table with my sketchbook while chatting with my partner or a friend.
To balance out the energy of being downtown, I like to drive out into nature when possible. Saguaro Lake is an incredibly peaceful place to sit and enjoy company – whether it’s your own company or someone else’s. It’s a perfect alternative when there’s not enough time to drive up north into the mountains. These are some of my favorite activities and places that make me feel happy and inspired.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Kyllan Maney, Matt Dickson, and Christian McAniff – all amazing artists, and my mentors since high school. They provided me with the foundation of my art education as well as the encouragement and support that has always kept me going. They provided me with countless opportunities that have contributed to my success and allowed me to grow as an artist, including participating in exhibitions, workshops with other professional artists, public art projects, teaching art classes, and more. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!