Artist Profile: Sally Hill

Artist Sally Hill is changing the way we think about pink. The fifth-year fine arts student, who draws inspiration from the sublime experience in nature and space, uses a pink colour palette to bring new cultural associations to a traditionally feminine and irrational colour.  A selection of Hill’s work will be on display at START gallery from September 27 until October 8.  

This week, she met up with The Argosy’s Arts and Literature section to discuss her current art practice and her post-graduation plans.

Hill, a Kentville native who spent her formative years in Washington and Kentucky, works with subjects that evoke sensations of the sublime elements in nature and vast spaces. 

Her exhibition at START Gallery, Ultimate Compassion, elucidates this concept through the idea of immersion in water. Her recent work explores the idea of deserts and underwater scenes as examples of sublime landscapes that engulf and overwhelm the viewer. She conveys this in part through her use of a dominantly pink palette, a colour she associates with the sublime.

She explains her connection to the colour pink by remarking that “pink is an amazing colour because it has a bunch of different energies and contradictory connotations. It is really energetic and sensual, but it is also really gaudy and artificial.”

“I like that it is a colour that people consider artificial, but it is also the same colour as the interior of our bodies,” she said. “I like that it normally isn’t used because of its connotations with girliness. I think that makes it pack more power when it does get used, because people aren’t used to seeing it in any other context.”

A notable quality of Hill’s work is her desire to maintain a level of transparency regarding the artistic philosophies that inform her practice, while still cultivating the subjective nature of her art.  As a viewer, I favour art that effectively relays the artist’s intent in understandable terms, so that the audience gains a new level of insight into the piece and can relate to it on a level that goes beyond their personal experiences. While contemporary art can be notoriously inaccessible, Hill’s work is honest and relatable.

“I want to portray myself as vulnerable from the get-go, give a part of myself out for ridicule, so that people are immediately given that trust,” she states. “I don’t want to assume that the feelings I’m portraying in my work are universal by taking myself out of it, because I want to take full responsibility for what I’m putting out there.”

One of the paintings in her exhibition was completed over the summer, when she created a new body of work after obtaining a Marjorie Young Bell Fine Arts and Music Award. This prestigious grant supports student artists working to provide an innovative element to the local cultural landscape through the production of high quality art. The Bell grant afforded Hill the freedom to experiment with her evolving painting style. 

After Hill’s graduation in the spring, she foresees a move to a bigger city, where she hopes to become engaged with a new artistic community. She is currently planning on applying for various artist-in-residency programs and submitting her work to gallery space.

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