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Artists' Pandemic: John Louie Calara

Interview By Maia Poon

Art in all its forms is so essential for our emotional wellbeing, learning about others’ lives, and sharing our own stories. Especially now, with June 2020 being Pride Month, a pivotal moment for the Black Lives Matter movement, and in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the role of art is shifting but more important than ever. I had the opportunity to provide a platform for multidisciplinary artists and writers through online interviews, and they each had something unique to share. Keep creating!

John Louie Calara


Artist (Mostly oil and graphite)

@jcalra__ @restwitheaze 

Pickering, Ontario, Canada

1. Do you feel more or less connected to your art during social isolation? 

Well, I’ve increasingly become more comfortable with my art and method of creating, if that answers the question. The work that I’m creating now was just a result of using whatever I had lying down around my house. Old untouched sketchbooks, pencils, Crayola pencils from elementary school; honestly whatever could leave a mark on a page I used it in some type of way. My preferred type of medium is oil paint. But with social isolation giving me an abundance of free time, I felt an awkward obligation to make more every day instead of a bigger piece every so often. So now I’m working with more simple mediums like pencils and coloured pencils. 

2. Have you seen any noticeable changes in the subjects of your art? 

Even in the beginning, I was always fascinated by depicting humans. And my work today continues this trend. Although recently I’ve opened it a lot more to nude subjects and ‘interesting,’ as some may say, acts in my work. 

3. Why is art important right now, with the pandemic and civil unrest around the world? 

I always see artwork of any kind as a sort of resource for those who need it. I remember some of the last words my high school art teacher said to me: “When people want to wind down and enjoy themselves, they turn to movies. They turn to books, music, etc. They always turn to the arts.” And if art can provide any sort of comfort to those who need it the most, it’s never seen as a waste. Art also allows important information, themes, subjects and opinions to be presented in an easy and digestible way. 

4. How can art be used to share typically marginalized voices? 

I guess this can relate a lot with what I was saying previously, with the short and quick-to-the-point of how some information is presented; how pertinent information/ideas/opinions can reach an audience quicker, as it appeals visually but will also slap you with the right information. I think of using @blobbynfriends on Instagram as an example. An adorable comic series of a group of friends including LGBTQIA+ people and a blobfish? But also giving you information regarding black lives matter and other extremely important topics. It’s perfect, especially with social media now, in that it rewards those seeking the quick and easy.


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