Elysia Rose is a self-taught artist who went from tinkering with spray paint in an autobody shop to having her own art show. Rose’s first canvas’ may have been scraps, but today she’s using a different kind of canvas to empower women in a time of political division.

Her interest in the arts started when she was a young girl, watching her dad paint on cars in his garage. “Growing up, I was always painting on broken car parts with car paint and then took art in school,” says Rose.

When she turned 19, Rose — who was then living in her hometown of Edmonton — moved to Vancouver to study graphic design at the Art Institute of Vancouver, where she discovered her unique style. Rose includes vibrant colours, black and white photos of women and sometimes animals in her work — even she isn’t quite sure how to categorize it.

“I don’t even know what I would call it — a graffiti wheatpaste inspired collage,” says Rose.

“I used to block out their eyes, but for this series I wanted them to have their eyes because as women we can see, and it’s time for us to open our eyes and see.” —Elysia Rose

An important step in Rose’s artistic process, is the coating of her collages in epoxy resin which is typically used on concrete floors and wood tables giving her artwork a laminated, gel finish. She sees this technique as being both literally and metaphorically crucial in making her art what she wants it to be.

Customers at Phil & Sebastian’s in Mission in Southwest Calgary were greeted with dim-lighting and loud music at the Art House Promotion Night. The featured artist was Elysia Rose, who focuses her art on female empowerment. Photo by Donna Kroker

“Growing up, I’ve always wanted to touch paintings in galleries and you can never touch art and I put lots of textures in my art and I just want to be able to touch it. So this makes it indestructible and on the flip side of that, it makes my message indestructible.”

Josie Lunn, of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, arranged for Rose’s art to be displayed in one of their locations as part of their Art House promotion where they showcase local artists.

Customers at Phil & Sebastian’s Art House were then greeted with dim-lighting, loud music and a rich variety of guests. Lunn says Rose’s art “is really timely with respect to the Women’s March because it’s about women coming together and being empowered.”

Elysia Rose’s work features women she has photographed in the past. She incorporates these women into her colourful collages and through creating a new artform. Photo by Donna Kroker

“My biggest thing has been giving women power,” agrees Rose. “I just found that the timing of this show was kind of divine with the Women’s March.” The Calgary sect of the international Women’s March saw more than 3,000 Calgarians rally to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights and health care reform.

Nonetheless, Rose says she found her style has evolved with her message.

“I used to block out their eyes. But for this series, I wanted them to have their eyes because as women we can see and it’s time for us to open our eyes and see.”

Barbara Bradley, patron of Phil & Sebastian’s, sipped a glass of wine while looking at Rose’s work. She said she found it quite remarkable, though admitting she isn’t familiar with the artist.

“I believe that she’s obviously been empowering herself, and now she wants to move into a different area. She feels that she’s been empowered … by doing this, by creating something in this world that’s of value,” says Bradley.

Currently, Rose is working as a freelancing graphic designer. Her goal moving forward is to eventually open a cafe where both men and women create art while enjoying a hot beverage and great conversation.

“I just want to get involved, especially with women and empowering women. Girls are very competitive with each other, and that’s not necessary. How powerful are two women working together?”

dkroker@cjournal.ca & spedersen@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Cassie Riabko and can be reached at criabko@cjournal.ca