One of the coolest creative challenges of our ongoing beer series in the LCBO is switching up the artwork on the can as often as we switch up the beer style. Every beer gets a different artistic treatment, and gives us the chance to showcase women-identifying artists from around Ontario.
For our latest release Brew 0005, a Hibiscus Pale Ale, we chose a design by Star Horn, a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) artist originally from Kahnawake (just outside of Montréal) who now calls Perth, Ontario home. We fell in love with the bright colours and bold style of her design, and can’t wait to see it on The Beer Store and LCBO shelves in March! The first batch of the beer will be available at the end of this month in our online shop and at the Henderson bottle shop, so we wanted to catch up with Star and hear more about her work, life as an artist, and what inspired her to create this funky label for us.
How did you get started as an artist?
I’ve been drawing and doing art for as long as I can remember. I started by copying the Snoopy and Woodstock cartoons. I was also an epic colouring book colourer! It’s also always been about ‘the kick’ one gets from creating something which makes people stop in their tracks and look. To make someone think about a subject, or simply admire what I’ve created, has always been a source of joy.
On your website you have a quote that says “An artist can only convey through his or her work the experience they have encountered, confronted, and endured.” Why does that speak to you as a creator and how do you feel it shows up in your work?
Growing up as Kanien’kehá:ka, in a territory with a lot of repetitive conflict over the years, it gives one a different perspective of what it means to be from this country. I grew up with a large extended and loving family which for a long time was idyllic. I was raised within a traditional world view that everything is connected and that we are caretakers of Mother Earth.
But as I got older I experienced political and violent events and became aware of the bigger picture. I lived through the Oka Standoff in Kahnawake and being surrounded by the Canadian army pointing firearms at us (I even had an army tank pointing it’s barrel gun at our house from across the street during that time – I did a painting depicting that one) and learned firsthand how media, governments, and racist organizations can have a huge hand in the telling of a narrative that suits themselves. It taught me to be diligent on how I got news and information and to question who was writing the story. I learned that we need to tell our own stories with whatever abilities we have, and my choice of medium, my ability, has always been through art.
My recent work has been more close to home and about myself and family, rather than about larger cultural and political conflict, but still speaks about the Indigenous experience in this world. I have a teenage son now and I’m keenly aware of how he fits in and does not, all at once. My favourite art creations have always been somewhat unsettling for others and using my art to speak truth is what I enjoy the most.
We’re thrilled to have your art on our latest LCBO beer label! Was there any particular vision or inspiration that led you to this design?
My hibiscus flower drawing for your can is a bit of a departure from my usual work – it’s such a non provocative piece for me! I wanted the design to fit in with previous SOBDL labels and chose to highlight the beautiful colors of the star of the show, the hibiscus flower. I was hoping to make the flowers ‘pop’ by my use of the greens and yellows surrounding them. I’ve previously done a series of drawings in black and white which play with the negative space and the interconnection of all the elements in the composition and I think that had influence on the artwork for this can. But, I was just so excited to get my artwork on a can for SOBDL that I don’t really recall my complete train of thought on this drawing!
What is your favourite part about having your art on a beer can?
The opportunity to speak to an audience. Whether it’s drawing attention to SOBDL and the community and causes they build up, or to my own work. I do art to please myself but also to speak to others. It’s about sharing my culture, showing everyone how rich and layered we are and have always been. I also think it’s so cool to ‘humble brag’ to my friends on our monthly Zoom calls about all this, LOL 🙂 I have designed beer labels before and currently do so as a freelancer, so if anyone needs artwork or a whole can design, just let me know!
Do you have a favourite style of beer?
I really have grown to love a big, juicy, hoppy, IPA but I’ve also been leaning towards some tasty stouts lately. I love a lot of what Dominion City puts out. I’m partial to breweries that do collaborations with communities and causes. I think if you’re going to call your beer ‘craft’ you should be interested and invested in helping others in your community. It goes back to a cultural belief that everything is connected. I also love that some breweries really support local artists by getting their work on labels. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Supporting small craft breweries, artists, designers, community causes… I love how it all can intertwine.
What’s next for you in 2021?
I don’t really know what’s next! This pandemic has made things kind of flip upside down. Art festivals and shows were all cancelled this past year and while a lot of organizations have transitioned to online galleries and sales, which is great, I don’t think it’s the same. Seeing artwork in person, the colours are different, you see more detail, the impact of a creation in-person is so different than by viewing it on a screen. But no matter what, I’ve always kept creating. I hope to get more work and opportunities to continue in jewelry, art, design, illustration, etc. as that would make me happiest.
You work in many different mediums, do you have a favourite?
I do switch mediums a lot, I enjoy exploring new things and find it hard to just stick to one. Making jewelry is relaxing for me, I can listen to podcasts or music while creating. Right now I am doing a lot of digital works. I feel most comfortable drawing on paper but with the technology available it’s amazing how similar a look/texture/colour you can achieve with digital applications. And I do love the bonus of not having to clean brushes or tidy up after charcoals. Sometimes it’s fun to be in the mess of art and sometimes you just want to be able to set it aside without all the clean up! Combining mediums like photography and digital drawing or painting and adding natural elements such as birchbark has been keeping me busy lately too.
Where can folks find your art if they’d like to see more and purchase your work?
My website is starhorn.ca and I’m most often on Instagram: @mohawkartist where I post daily what I am creating or seeing. Both have links to a Square store where anyone can purchase my work. Not everything is up, as of yet, but if you see something I’ve posted you can always message me for more info.
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Star! Check out her website, and keep your eyes peeled for her beautiful design on LCBO and Beer Store shelves real soon.