Ordinary to extraordinary – a process with no end

The third edition of the Divergent Thinkers collective exhibition – incorporating a group of young artists and curated by Raphael Vella – will take place at Blitz, St Lucy Street, Valletta from August 31 to September 27, using ‘RADICAL’ as its artistic prompt. This week, we speak to Moira Agius.

Moira Agius
Moira Agius

How would you describe the dynamic of Divergent Thinkers?

I think that the fulcrum of such a notion is the transformation of the ordinary into extra-ordinary. It is a process, an experience and a way of thinking, seeing and viewing the world.

In a broader sense, it is reshaping the local public scene from one based on traditional art to a more contemporary set of ideas. In my sculptures, this inter-relationship between divergent thinking and creativity has given me impetus to give birth to new ideas while constantly trying to solve problems that emerge during the making of every sculpture. 

I believe this is the heart and soul of Divergent Thinkers - the ability to express yourself while constantly solving problems synonymous with the process.

 Would you say that your approach to art is primarily local, or international? How so?

My approach to art is perhaps one that is resonant with the international contemporary scene as it attempts to amalgamate creativity and intellect. However, I do tend to tackle controversial issues from our local scene. I am interested in contemporary issues surrounding evolution in natural and man-made transformations.

My work attempts to raise transformative issues that are halted by social restrictions and culturally imposed taboos, such as religion. I also tend to use a mixture of glass and polystyrene resin to allow the audience to empathize with the creations and possibly imagining their shattered self in the objects’ anomalies.

In a nutshell, I aim to create a relationship between my works and the audience by balancing the visual and the tactile, where the use of material is given utmost importance.

What are some of the most important things you’ve learnt about art from school and other educational institutions? What are some of the most important things you’ve learnt at your own initiative?

Ever since I was a child, I have been attending different art courses with different teachers, and some of them were also practicing artists. Such institutions helped me enhance formal art principles; however, there has been nothing as powerful as my motivation and determination.

I can say that the most important lessons are learnt by doing. I explored the use of shattered glass when I was preparing to sit for the A-Levels examinations, but I continued to explore ways how I can incorporate such a material in my works at University.

Through the process, I learnt that the element of surprise is crucial in my work, where I struggle to strike a balance between what I want to achieve and allowing for the randomness instigated by the properties of the material. I feel that juggling these two approaches surprises not only the audience, but also myself as an artist.

 This dynamism injects a ‘soul’ in my work. Lecturers do help you solidify and explore who you are as an artist, but your own reflection and exploration are crucial in one’s formation. I perceive ‘learning’ as the point of departure, while ‘doing’ is the journey which allows you to explore places you haven’t been before. Continuing on such an analogy, in my work I do not aim for a point of arrival.

How do you think participating in VIVA will help you as an artist?

I am highly interested in exploring the roles of contemporary curators and understanding what the criteria by which works are selected are. Hence, I am expecting this opportunity to give me insight on the issues associated with accessing the ‘art world’.  I believe that this workshop will also be an exciting hub from where I can meet established artists and learn from their artistic approach towards the creation of their own work. I think that this course may also provide me with skills on how to present my work to the viewer according to what I want to achieve.

Finally, I am looking forward to receiving feedback about my art works from professionals in the field as this can help me develop myself as an artist.

What’s next for you?

There is nothing crystal clear at the moment, however I do plan to keep on searching for opportunities that can both showcase my works as well as help me become a better creator.  In fact, I am also aiming at continuing my studies abroad as I am interested in how my work would transform in environments that are synonymous with critical art practices, while also furthering my knowledge in the art of glass making, mould-making, and contemporary sculptures.

Divergent Thinkers 03 forms part of the Valletta International Visual Arts Festival. For more information, log on to: http://www.viva.org.mt