Ally: "No matter what is the origin or cause of eating disorders, the consequences are significant. Art is a powerful tool and can be used as a unique healing modality."
Issue IX Art and Artist Interview Empower
Interviewed by Vanshika Gandhi
16th June, 2021
Ally Zlatar examines, instigates and provokes notions of the individual experience through focusing on the themes of illness, vulnerability, and authenticity of one’s lived-in experience. She utilizes an auto-ethnographic approach to her contemporary figurative painting. She acknowledges power within the un-well body and believes there is tremendous value and potency by examining it through the contemporary art lens. Born in Mississauga, Canada. She holds a BFA in Visual Art & Art History from Queen's University & an MLitt Curatorial Practice and Contemporary Art from the Glasgow School of Art. Currently, she is a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow (GIC) and is pursuing her Doctorate of Creative Arts with the University of Southern Queensland. In her artistic practice, she is continuously interpreting, communicating and facilitating her work to make a difference in society.
What prompted you to go professional in the field of Creative Arts ? How has this field changed you since you started ?
Ally: For myself, art has always been my passion. From my early years in highschool, I was always fascinated with the subject. I felt like I was able to share my visual works with an audience to amaze or excite them. Now I have shifted and been really determined to use my painting and artistic voice to express my profound thoughts and feelings on the world around me. In particular, my work acknowledges power within the un-well body and believes there is tremendous value and potency by examining it through the contemporary art lens.
Can you tell us about your involvement with the “The Starving Artist” project? How did you envision the structure and impact of the project?
Ally: Initially, it was meant to be a lot smaller scale but, as popularity and interest grew, it allowed me to expand upon my vision. I found that my role existed in between the pages and equally outside of the bounds of the book. My role entailed everything from maintaining communication, negotiating contracts, and writing about art and artists, to studio visits, debating with publication and printing formatting, and brokering relationships. Over the course of the project, I realized that I went above and beyond what I wanted to achieve. I was able to collaborate with such a diverse range of artists and contributors. I created a positive impact on the community, and it reaffirms me to further develop these ideas and various others I have in my curatorial vision. In the larger context of curating, this experience has truly helped me expand my knowledge of the systematic structure of the art world.
What inspired you to use your power of art to promote social change ?How did you work upon creating this change with art ?
Ally: I don’t think it was inspiration but, was really a necessity. For myself, my voice is my artwork. I think that is how I have always expressed myself.
Many people, even in today’s world, have forgotten the fact that everybody is beautiful. What would your message to these people be ?
In my work, I focus on small fragments. Small glimpses of memories, small insights into the self that make me feel good. Whether it would be, feeling good in a shirt, or love how you feel when you swim. This helps us start to appreciate who we are.
You have lived and studied in several countries: Canada, Scotland, and now Australia and every country has a different culture. Which one has been your favourite ? Do you think your international training has influenced and expanded your own creative vision?
Ally: I think my time in the Netherlands was my favourite and most formative. I admire, the culture, the environment and the art scene. It was so inspiring for my practice. Definitely my favourite.
You are currently working on book project on Eating Disorders and the Auto-Ethnographic Experience- we would love to get an insight into this project.
Ally: One Body My Body No Body is an academic-based artist book which utilizes my personal experiences and reflective analysis on the lived experience with an eating disorder. The work takes on a unique exploration of my position as an artist and curator experiencing a series of lifelong eating disorders. The reality of living with the ‘inner torment’ deriving from these diseases is unbearable. It is incredibly difficult to express how having an eating disorder can impact self-identity and self-image of someone who is ill. My art emerges from this personal experience of these eating disorders and how I represent my body within my artworks.
Your message for our readers and youth?
Ally: Your worth is always more than your appearance, or your social media presence. remember you have a voice, and share that with the world.