We talked to MC Baldassari about her thoughts and journey as a woman in arts.
MC Baldassari is a Québec versatile artist working as a visual artist and illustrator. Her version of Batgirl reminded us of comic books drawings; the character’s street style standing out with the use of a bright purple. Visit her website and read her interview below.
Can you talk about what sparked your interest in the Arts?
I don’t recall that there was a particular spark or moment when I was like “I’ll do arts!”, I think it’s just always been there. I have always loved visual arts, especially drawing, and I have always drawn and had a special interest in comic books. My mother always made us do lots of activities and allowed us to develop our creativity over the years (yes it runs in the family!) At school, I quickly turned to applied arts, then industrial design. It was only in my mid-twenties that I discovered what an illustrator was. Today I have the chance to be multi-disciplinary and practice illustration as well as mural work or industrial design.
Can you talk about a piece of artwork, yours or someone else’s, that really made an impression on you?
It’s really difficult to choose a particular artwork, so I’ll give you a few that come to mind and inspire me.
- In comic books, I’ve always been a huge fan of Enki Bilal. Each panel is a true work of art. I have always admired the honesty of his drawings and the sensations conveyed through their texture.
- In visual arts, Andy Goldsworthy’s work is mind-blowing. It really touches upon my interest in nature and the organic. There is a will to create visual patterns using what is found in the wild, such as leaves, flowers, rock, etc.
- In mural arts and painting, I greatly admire Bezt (ETAM Cru) for the themes he deals with and above all for the quality of his techniques. I’m always impressed by the way he works with proportions, colors and light.
What is an environment or place you worked in that inspired you most?
In 2017, I travelled to Winnipeg to work on a mural with the EN MASSE team. We spent an intense week working on one of the biggest walls ever made by the team. The building in question was in a rather particular district of the city where there were many people in difficult situations, particularly from the Aboriginal community. We saw a lot of sick people, many were drunk at all times of the day, some were in quite bad shape. For them, this building which was a hotel I believe, was a kind of refuge.
We were working on this wall and they saw its evolution and how it became a place of interest. It brought them a lot of warmth when they saw the neighborhood’s pride in it. We received so many thanks and gratitude. These people spend a lot of time in the street and are ultimately the first spectators of our work. I believe that the image of this street corner has been changed in the eyes of the rest of the city’s population. It was an extraordinary experience for me. Of all the murals I made this is probably the most relevant.
What does the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, mean to you?
Although I do understand their relevance, I don’t feel particularly concerned by themed days or holidays that have been adopted over the years. Strangely, I don’t feel particularly “concerned” with Women’s Day. When I think about this day, I think I imagine our grandmothers who fought for women’s right to vote or have actively supported causes that led us to the freedom we have today. Today is rather about them than me. I don’t especially feel the need to assert myself as a woman, but rather as an artist. I believe (I hope!) that I am identified for my work more than for my gender.
What should we prioritize when we are addressing questions around gender equity?
I have the impression that in order to progress in gender equity, the main issue is that, actually, we should not have to ask this question. We shouldn’t even have to question whether a woman is paid less than a man, or why a woman would be left aside. It should be okay that each person is recognized for the quality of their work or that of their actions and not by their gender. I believe that these kinds of stereotypes still exist because we continue to inculcate and highlight them. We are not born thinking this way; unfortunately, we learn about it. You need to ask yourself when and how people start thinking that way. I believe that everything goes through education and what we teach our children. I believe it is essential that these questions we have today are not asked by the adults of tomorrow.
As a woman in a fairly masculine environment, as it often is the case also in the video games industry, what has been your biggest challenge? And maybe your biggest surprise?
It is true that there are often more male artists in the arts, especially street arts. I also work in the automotive field of industrial design and I am, most of the time, the only woman. Honestly, it’s not something I even notice and have never felt uncomfortable or set apart for this reason. I am not really embarrassed by the fact that these are mainly masculine disciplines. What matters to me is that, once again, if someone wants to integrate a job, be it in a predominantly male or female environment, their skills and their place in a team should never be questioned based on their gender.
Would you have any advice for young women wishing to thrive in the street art scene?
The arts are not easy, whether you are girl or boy. It takes a LOT of passion and perseverance. Don’t ever think you can’t do something because you’re a girl in a boyish environment (or not, for that matter). We are in Québec, we are in 2021, yes there are some who haven’t kept up, and it is their loss. Today we have the tools to get our work recognized and most of the world will choose you for your expertise and nothing else. It’s up to you to make yourself unique and irreplaceable! Gender should not be a hindrance or an obstacle, all that matters is your work.
To support this cause and this project, you will generously donate to Quebec Native Women, a local organization. Why have you chosen this organization?
Beyond wounds indigenous communities have been living with, it seems that the there is still a long and arduous way to go towards achieving equity between men and women. I have been lucky enough to never have faced violence, bullying or gender discrimination, but this isn’t the case for many communities in which this is a daily reality. It’s a fact that Indigenous women are victims of domestic or sexual violence in a higher proportion than other women in Québec, not to mention those who are missing or murdered. I would like this money to be used especially for educational projects. It is certain that access to education is essential for a person to become responsible, independent, and fulfilled, but also for them to understand and apply their rights.
“Batgirl” by MC Baldassari