Lorette Luzajic is a mixed media artist and writer from Toronto, Canada. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Lorette in person, but we have mutual friends, and have worked together off and on for many years. I have admired her for her writing style…she takes up quite a bit of room on my bookshelf with her attention-holding poems and tales. She has an interest for fascinating people and has published a couple of books with essays about the people she considers her inspirations and muses.
When Lorette is not writing and managing the Crad Kilodney Literary Foundation for her mentor, friend, and Canadian cult figure, Chad Kilodney, who passed away recently, she creates rich tapestries of collages and abstract paintings. She shows her work a great deal around Ontario, as well as in the United States. You can read more about Lorette on her site, but please take a few moments to read this interview here before you journey through Lorette’s beautiful works and explore her vast accomplishments.
There’s no motivator like results. It’s been a long path of trial and error, and I’m still learning, but at a certain point you begin to see that you get more out of it, the more you put into it. You find what works for you and what doesn’t. My self-promotion is a work in progress and I have a long way to go, but the confidence that develops along the way is a vital part of the process and it is an essential tool for doing a better job of communicating.
I’ve always been of the mind that no one else is going to do something for me so I need to do it myself. If I made an ass of myself, well, it’s been known to happen. But in general, people want to help you, just as you want to share interesting music or writers that you enjoy. First, those people need to know about you. So tell them.
All the writers’ magazines I read when I was a tween told me to develop a thick skin. I thought this meant I should be matter of fact about getting rejection slips.
But I was in my mid 30s when I really got it. A piece I had written about a brilliant novelist had not gone over well, and I was referred to as “the worst writer in the world.” I was devastated. It can’t get much lower than that. I cried like there was no tomorrow, but tomorrow came, and something had changed. Grow up, I told myself. Not everyone gets everything all the time, and not every word out of your mouth is genius. Toughen up if you want to be out there, or else retire and do something else. That was a real turning point.
Social media has made it possible to reach people all over the world, to be in touch with other artists and their ideas. It’s a wonderful facilitator of networks and learning. What we are able to see, share, and discover has never been more abundant. But it is, of course, overwhelming- and really drives home how there are so many writers and artists, and only so many people with walls and money at the same time, only so many books even the most avid of readers can plow through.
I have more time I suppose than many adults, because I don’t have children. Other people do their work and raise kids, and I don’t know how they do it.
I’m inspired by human ideas- literature, art, music, the imagination of religion, cities, culture, technology.
I know you had a close relationship and were an avid supporter of fellow Canadian writer, Crad Kilodney. How did he influence your writing with his life and death?
Crad Kilodney is a Canadian cult figure famous for writing inspired by vanity press, pulp, and b-movies. He is legendary for having a rather cantankerous personality- he was a self described misanthrope. He did not see himself as an eccentric, but I can tell you that he most definitely was.
Crad encouraged me and pushed me and infuriated me and adored me- it was a potent tincture. I worked harder to make him proud. We had almost nothing in common creatively save for our shared DIY philosophy and absurd sense of humour. It proved to be more than enough.
Now my work will always be intertwined with his, because I promised him I would start the Crad Kilodney Literary Foundation the day after his death and provide a hub for readers to access his work and share memories of him. So he became part of my life’s work and vocation. It has meant being asked to read on his behalf at major festivals like Luminato, and to being approached by luminaries like Anthony Stechyson, a brilliant young TV producer.
Stechyson is turning Crad’s biography, Putrid Scum, into a documentary. And so it is that I am now doing creative consultation for him, working on a feature length film. I am so happy for an opportunity to participate in the production of a movie, and learn so much about an art I’ve never been involved in.
Women are a tremendous source of inspiration, and while there have been so many obstacles to creation and recognition, I’m curious about how women have really been integral to art history. The role of the muse is a lively history filled with unconventional women whose beauty or charisma is part of the hidden story of art. Certainly we have talents to offer that don’t involve taking off our clothes or giving our ideas over to men to use- that’s not the point I’m making at all. It’s just that we shouldn’t miss or dismiss the extraordinary power of women’s beauty and character to inspire. Women were always behind the scenes, and I suspect that art would be much more sterile and soulless had that not been true.
Perhaps the great genius of Marilyn Monroe was her instinctive recognition of the role of the muse. She created the ultimate muse from the fabric of her own life- strong and vulnerable, tragic yet triumphant, an orphan girl turned goddess at the twitch of her own magic wand. She brilliantly performed for dozens of great photographic artists, using technology to immortalize herself, and she made mediocre artists great by giving them a dazzling subject. I view Monroe as one of the world’s greatest artists because she took that history and turned it on its head- the muse had so long been behind the scenes, and now she was more famous than anyone. This is why I included her in my book Fascinating Artists, in the essay, “Marilyn as Masterpiece.”
I’m also really drawn to women on the other side of the camera. Many of my favourite female artists are actually photographers, like Mexico’s Lola Alvarez Bravo, and Berlin’s Elsie Neulander Simon. Elsie mentored Helmut Newton before she was butchered by the Nazis; her fashion photographs were sensual documents of contrasting details and lines, hands and stockings and buttons and seams. One book I never tire of looking through is Naomi Rosenblum’s History of Women Photographers. All creative people should own a copy- it is a revelation to see a chronological compilation of women’s pictures. It really drives home the importance of diversity in art, because you can see how differently women see things.
Two other women who are integral to my creative education are the critics Camille Paglia and Sister Wendy. They couldn’t be more opposite- Paglia, fiery lesbian and guerrilla scholar whose massive intellect is matched by her controversial persona, and Sister Wendy, the endearing nun whose insights are simple, delivered so the common populace can understand. Wendy’s sweet pablum avoids the intimidating elitism and jargon that prevents ordinary people from appreciating art- she opens the doors to thousands of paintings by empowering regular people to enrich their life with art by igniting their curiousity and validating their perceptions. Paglia offers rigorous historical inquiry into western civilization, poetry and literature, and art- most of us need to keep a dictionary handy as we work our way through her books. But she makes connections no one else does, and has outrageous opinions and an unmatched wit.
Women in the arts continue to break barriers and change the world. Toronto is one of the greatest places on earth, and it’s very exciting to work in a country and era where I’m allowed to vote, to show my face, and to show my art.
You know, I could ask you a thousand questions, because you to me are a fascinating person, but tell me about your series of books on fascinating people. Did that sound a little lame? If so…my apologies.
I have always been interested in human creativity and inspired by interesting people. There are so many characters and so many stories. The series of books, which includes Fascinating Artists, Fascinating Writers, and Fascinating People, shares my encounters with the biography and work of various unusual people. I felt that essay length stories about the lives of people who have contributed to the rich human tapestry might intrigue people to go deeper into exploring that person’s creativity or biography. Of course, these are subjective pieces about my own response as an artist to the work of others- a way of introducing people to my many muses.
You can read more about Peggy at peggymintunart.com.