After 25 years teaching art with the Calgary Board of Education, Lil Molstad felt ready for a change.
“It was fun, but I really just wanted to work on my own art.”
The Edmonton-born artist said her art often has two avenues — either a playful nature or exploring social injustice, particularly gender inequality.
“I’m 73 now, so I’ve had a lot of experiences as a female and what that entails in terms of my ability to do things, do what I wanted to do,” Molstad says. “I’m inspired by my own life to speak about what I believe in.”
Molstad’s experience seeing female hyenas in Africa inspired one of her favourite paintings she has done – Hyena Herd, a vibrant depiction of hyenas in different colours.
“They’re quite interesting and the female of the hyenas actually is the leader of the pack,” she says. “When I’m doing paintings, I’m attracted to something that allows me to tell a story and a narrative.”
Like Hyena Herd, much of her work is bright and multicoloured.
“Macabre and dark images will tell the story, but fewer people will actually be receptive to it, and I, myself, am not receptive to it,” Molstad says.
“I like to tell the story so that people can get it, but they don’t have to feel sad about it.”
Molstad says she doesn’t mind if viewers don’t pick up on the meaning of her artwork — she simply hopes her bright artwork evokes positive emotions. She’s especially fond of one piece called And, We Love Them All, which depicts cats in bright colours.
“It’s a fun painting,” she says. “That one makes me feel good, and I think it probably makes other people feel good, too.”
Her travels also influence her artwork and the culture of Africa has inspired an art installation she’s working on called Kaleidoscope Diaspora, which is “about immigration and migration in a positive way.”
“It’s about all people being equal and all people having something to give,” Molstad says.
“I have always thought about the culture and the artwork because I think the artwork speaks about the culture.”
Molstad hopes people can support both local and Canadian artists for their contributions to the culture.
“Historically speaking, we can read history in the artwork that has been made over the years.”