We met a lot of wonderful people at the Affordable Art Fair Los Angeles but one artist in particular had a project that so delighted us we just had to share it with our LittleCollector blog readers! Iza Mokrosz is a painter from Toronto who shows her work with Blunt Collective and, as we discovered, she also does absolutely beautiful commissioned portraits of children's clothes and toys! The project began as a fundraiser for her daughters daycare and soon expanded as parents sent in their children's favorite item of clothing or favorite toy from an I love NY onesie or a pair of sparkly mary janes. With a moving story of her own childhood journey from Poland to Canada, we just had to find out more.
For information on Iza's commissions contact her at: email@example.com
All images are 20" x 24", acrylic and ink on paper, copyright Iza Mokrosz.
LC: Tell us more about the painting commissions you do for kids and parents.
IM: I paint children’s clothing and toys as an alternate, contemporary way of capturing childhood. The life size paintings are done on paper that has a wash of black ink on it. For me the matt quality of the black ink is reminiscent of a chalkboard and the constant erasure that takes place, much like the changing and outgrowing of clothes and toys.
LC: How did the project get started?
IM: Two things contributed to this project. The main one, of course, was the birth of my daughter. Since becoming a mother, I am amazed at how quickly children grow and change. I wanted to create a possibility of freezing that change and started the paintings as a means to do this.
The other was watching the Andrea Arnold 2006 film, Red Road. In the film, there is an incredibly moving scene involving baby clothes and the close connection we have to them as parents.
The project opened up to commissions when I organized a fundraiser for my daughter’s day care doing the paintings for other parents. The experience was very positive and I am continuing with the project.
LC: What kind of stories do you hear about the items and clothing you paint and how do you treat those stories in your work?
IM: The stories I hear are mostly about the children, even though I am painting their clothes. My favorite one so far is of a bathing suit I was asked to paint. The back of the suit had straps that went half way down and ended in a bow. I really liked this side and wanted to paint it instead of the front. It just so happened that the parents wanted this side painted as well. As it turns out, their daughter was equally fond of the back of her bathing suit and spent the entire summer wearing it backwards, making her look like a mini wrestler!
LC: Do you have any special objects from your childhood that you've commemorated? What about your daughter's favorite things?
IM: I have very few things left from my childhood. My family and I defected from Poland whilst it was still communist. To do so we left everything behind including my toys. The few things I have, I acquired during our half year of living in a refugee camp in Austria. My favourite is a collection of tiny, brightly coloured animal figures which I have framed. Since then, I have been given various small objects from family members, which I have started to photograph in a body of work entitled Art and Artifact.
I have painted my daughter’s clothing. Mostly things she would wear when she was tiny that I associate with that time. She has a few favourites now, like her grey elephant, which I will be painting at some point.
LC: You also teach photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Do you have any fun photography activities for kids that you could share with us?
IM: At OCAD University I teach an older age group but have taught young children in past. My favourite thing to do will sound very basic - but give young children a camera as soon as they show interest and let them play with it. For a slightly older age, 6 and up, scavenger hunts are fun using a camera. Others include; photographing only things of a particular colour; photographing shadows; or taking pictures whilst in motion to create blur.