SCUGOG: Local Scugog resident Allison Clayton is quickly making a name for herself in the art world.
Last week, she was one of the seven emerging artists that got to show their works at the annual Lake Scugog Studio Tour.
She explained to The Standard that she decided to apply to be part of the studio tour after her friend, and local artist, Jasmine Rutschmann encouraged her to do so.
“We were at the farmers market together and she had done the tour previously last year and she said ‘hey, why have you never applied for it?’; and I just kind of looked at her, and I was like ‘well, I’ve never seen myself doing this type of thing.’ She kept pushing me to apply and one day I just got the courage up to apply,” she said. “I got in and it was awesome.”
Ms. Clayton first got interested in art when she was in high school. She credits her teacher Steve Longauer as the one that encouraged her to follow that path.
“I was never one to actually think that I could do art. When I went into high school, it wasn’t until I started facing a whole bunch of undiagnosed health issues [that she truly became interested in it.] I spent a lot of time in and out of Sick Kids, and when high school came around you have to take that mandatory Grade 9 entry level art classes, and I absolutely hated it at first, and it was my high school art teacher who actually convinced me to keep pursuing art,” she said. “I thought it was funny, because it ended up to be something I could find a sense of relief in and something that I found relaxing.”
Ms. Clayton also spoke about the health issues that plagued her when she was in high school.
“From where it started, it all was pretty much undiagnosed, and from there it became all of these little things that kept adding up, like migraines and interactions with all of these different medications from tests and stuff like that, and everything just ended up happening at once, and we all couldn’t figure out what was going on. I used to be a competitive figure skater during that time, so I had all of these injuries that were affecting all these other things. I was just in constant pain everyday and we couldn’t figure out what exactly it was,” she said. “One thing started working for me and we kept sticking with it.
With physio, I was seeing so many doctors and doing so many tests, I just sort of said ‘I can’t do it anymore’, and we just pushed back from all of that, and then it wasn’t until we finally got away from all of that, that I started to notice that I was doing a bit better on my own.”
She later enrolled in an arts program at the University of Toronto.
“Finishing high school, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do. I kind of had an idea, part of me really wanted to go into criminology or something like that, but I kept going back to ‘what could I do with an arts degree?’ My sister had gone to that school previously and absolutely loved it, so it was close enough that I could still live at home and be a part of the community here and live life here, but I could also go to school out there,” Ms. Clayton said. “So, I enrolled in first year for their studio arts program, and then from there going into second year, I decided I wanted to take more psychology and mental health studies courses, and I fell in love with it, and I wanted to see how I could bring the two fields together.”
Ms. Clayton works with a variety of art mediums.
“Lately it’s been mainly acrylic painting, that’s where I started, and I like to do a lot of mixed media collages. So, I’ll mix a lot of ink drawing with kind of like these paper cutouts. I really enjoy doing that one. I also do a lot of kinetic sculpture, which I think is my favourite part of my art practice.
That started maybe two years ago. I ended up taking this class in university, where it was all about circuits and building machines. I thought I was going to hate it, but I fell in love with it,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve just been making these kind of useless machines that complicate everyday actions, like a six foot tall machine where its sole purpose was to dip a bag of tea in a little tiny tea cup.”
Ms. Clayton also said her younger self would be surprised that she has studied art this far into her life.
“I am graduating from the University of Toronto in June, and I did double majors in studio arts and mental health studies, and I never saw myself pursuing art that far, especially taking it in university, it just became something fun for me, and then from that, having all of my professors push me into doing more, I started doing all of these different shows and one thing led to another, and then I was here in the studio tour. It’s been amazing and I don’t want it to end.”
Ms. Clayton’s dream job would be to work as an art therapist at Sick Kids Hospital. “I want to work with children who find themselves in any situation, whether it’s undiagnosed or cancer or anything they are facing in their life, and I want them to be able to use art as this outlet and as a therapeutic means,” she said.