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  • Annette Dawm

The Skye is the Limit for The Outliers Gallery

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Skye Cormier is an Owen Sound, Ontario based artist who has turned her home into The Outliers Gallery—a place where she can make and sell her art. While she had always been a creative person, it was not always possible for Skye to actually be creative. After becoming a parent, however, her artistic side seemed to return:

“I started painting again (after a long absence) when my baby was about nine months old. I was a mixture of bored and depressed, and had this urging to paint again. So with a lot of motivation from my baby-daddy, I experimented a lot, played around a lot, and bashed out about a dozen pieces that felt really good. After some feedback from family, I thought they might be semi-decent. So I approached a gallery; again some positive feedback and more importantly my confidence grew. I kept working at it, improving, and then got into a place [where] I felt I wanted more people to see what I was up to. After some things went south with the gallery, I decided to live up to my millennial identity and work with the World Wide Web. I created The Outliers Gallery on social media and I almost immediately was commissioned for a painting”. Recently, two paintings were sold in one day which left Skye feeling as though things will hopefully be “onwards and upwards from here”.

Cormier has often referred to her work as “accidental art” because it has taken shape in some unusual ways, like in the shower: “I approach a canvas in different ways with different states of mind. Sometimes, I have a vision of what I'm trying to create. Most often, though, I have no idea what I'm about to do. I pick a colour or two, a shape, and/or a movement, and just roll with it. Either way, most pieces aren't completed the way I think they will. I've painted and hated it, so I wash or paint over it and it creates something completely different.... 'The Perpetual Loneliness' or 'Him', for example, I painted on colours with my paint scraper (which I use similar to a palette knife). I stared at it for a few minutes, then I hated it, so put it in the shower to try and salvage the canvas. But part way through, I was like, ‘perfect!’ and immediately got it out of the shower. I took a cloth, dabbed at a few spots, and did the whole process a few more times….” She laughed and said that even though she hated the piece at first, it is now a favourite.

Right: "The Perpetual Loneliness" or "Him"

by Skye Cormier was painted on a 24x48 inch canvas.

If someone were just discovering Skye’s work for the first time today, she admitted that she would want the audience to know “everything and nothing” about her. As she explained, “I love hearing people's initial reaction to my pieces without context, as I already know my art's stories and everything that built up to their creation. So having a fresh mind viewing the art for the first time, with only their own experiences and influences, is really interesting. But I also selfishly want to explain every nuance, experience, emotion, and motion that went into each piece. I suppose I fit into the tortured artist archetype: I've had some shit experiences. My mind likes to fuck with me a lot, and most of my painting is me trying to work my way through all of that…. Most times, I'm processing; like having a conversation with myself, or trying to get my mind back into reality by ironically creating the most unrealistic art.”

The name of the gallery itself also came from a negative experience but it is slowly being turned into a positive one with every new piece that Skye churns out: “Years ago, I had met someone who really got under my skin. We had --at least for me-- a really intense 'relationship'. He once said to me that I was a true outlier; I found it very flattering and grew quite attached to the word. When in hindsight I realized how much of a manipulative and selfish person he was, I felt the word was mine to reclaim in a way. So I've kept it and felt it was the best way to describe the collection.”

In the future, Cormier would ultimately love to run her own gallery (outside of her home) or a coffee shop which she described as a “‘hipstery’ kind of place with all kinds of weird and wonderful contributions. I would like to keep expressing myself and finding people who can take something away from my work.” She would also like to open an online store on Etsy.

In the words of Nike, Skye’s advice for other artists is “Just do it”. She then remarked that it “sounds simplistic and ridiculous, but put your passion into it whenever it calls you-- even when you think it doesn't. And just do what you're feeling. Give yourself permission to prioritize your expression. A lot of practice and experimenting is needed for most every medium, so just start doing it and keep doing it.”

While Skye has created her own art work to help battle depression, she has also helped other people do the same with Youth Elevating Youth (YEY). “Youth Elevating Youth is a recent project started by Lauren Best and Dylan Chuvan-Smith, now consisting of a few of us living in the Owen Sound area. It's an organization which has the aim of bringing youth (under 29) to work together to tackle issues utilizing artistic expression. YEY is to bring focus on the importance of art and artistic expression in social change, self-care, and community involvement. Our goal is to give access to leadership roles, the wider network of the social justice and arts communities, and to facilitate collaborative work…. We currently are associated with Sheater who provide a great deal of experience. As well, we have been awarded with both a Laidlaw and SPARC grant to aid financially. And of course, having passionate and dedicated people to help you with the workload and perspective is indispensable. There are workshops around which also go through how to write grants, facilitate workshops, and other logistic details for creating a successful organization.”

When asked about what YEY would have meant to her during her own youth, she replied: “Oh my god, I think this project is so important. I don't even know the extent of what it would have meant to me to have access to something like this growing up. [It’s] somewhere to feel involved and valued as well as accessible and encouraging to explore any and all artistic endeavours. I believe it would have been invaluable, personally and communally.” Throughout the rest of 2018, Skye Cormier is looking forward to many things, including the return of her partner who has spent a year abroad and the new things that YEY is exploring. Finally, she is also very excited to keep working on her art and herself in order to see how far she can go!

For more information or to purchase art by Skye Cormier, you can leave her a message on Facebook or Instagram. Photos courtesy of Skye Cormier.

UPDATE: (August 22, 2019) Skye now has a website that you can visit here.

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