From the creepy to the cute, to nude portraits, to pet collages - Hamiltonian visual artist clumsygarbage’s art style is difficult to label. Chris Moors didn’t grow up in Hamilton. She jumped around the east end of the GTA throughout her childhood: from Mississauga, to Burlington, to Milton and Oakville. The artist finally settled in Hamilton in early 2017, hoping to lay down some roots and connect with the local arts community.
clumsygarbage describes leaning towards brighter and more playful graphics as of late, as she describes becoming easily unfocused when her work is too complicated or can’t be broken down into simple stages.
"I tried the intricate, highly detailed or representational approach to art and it's just not what my brain wants to do,” says Moors. “I was pretty miserable with it. I know that seems contradictory with my Brick and Mortar series, but I can break down the process by drawing one building at a time. It’s a simple approach that I can walk away from and come back to with ease."
Moors finds inspiration in twisted, dark-leaning artists, like the work of Francis Bacon.
“Bacon was the first artist I took the time to learn about,” says Moors. “In grade six I did a project based around him, and his paintings really stuck with me. It was visceral and a little shocking, probably the first artist I really reacted to. I love his explorations of the human body and take the time to reflect on it from time to time still.”
Besides other visual artists like Alex Pardee, Felicia Chiao and Boneface, the painter takes heavily influence from comics like Deadly Class and The Umbrella Academy, as well as musicians, like Queens of the Stone Age and Murder By Death.
“They’re two bands that have a very distinct sound to me, but they play and experiment with their music and there’s a stark difference between all of the albums they release,” says Moors. “You can hear their growth through their discographies.”
The artist remembers her passion for art starting at an early age. She reminisces about her great aunt saving toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and Kleenex boxes for Moors and her cousins to craft with.
“She had so many old crayons and erasers that I was fascinated by, they were all different shapes and sizes,” says Moors. “And my grandma would make sure there were always sketchbooks and drawing tools in the house when I visited.”
Moors explains that the adults in her family weren’t very creative, but were always encouraging and supportive when the kids showed an interest. As a child, clumsygarbage preferred to draw people and animals, “I was absolutely enamoured with cats, I could never quite get their snouts right though,” says Moors.
The first sale the artist made was on a piece titled, “Mother Wonder”, a collage of the actress Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.
“I had arranged images of red, white and blue candles in front of Carter, shrouded with blue fabric with stars as a veil to imitate a shrine to the Virgin Mary,” says Moors. “I drew a golden rope border around the image, and she had a gold halo. It was for a Wonder Woman themed art show. I was ecstatic someone had wanted it for their home parlour. Sadly I didn’t take any nice photos of the piece.”
Unfortunately, Moors’ work isn’t currently very profitable, as the artist has been prioritizing non-artistic work to pay her bills.
“I worked out of the Shared Space in the Cotton Factory with a friend up until 2020,” says Moors. “The Cotton Factory had started hosting market nights that were bringing in a lot of attention. I was meeting people that had been following me on social media for a while on those nights, it was exciting but also overwhelming- I have a hard time with crowds. Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced that to end, and I had to leave the Share Space later that year, my friend was moving and I couldn’t afford to stay.”
Anxious around crowds, clumsygarbage tends to avoid Art Crawl, finding it difficult to talk to other artists about their crafts.
“The crowds are overwhelming, and I end up feeling like I’m getting in peoples' way, or taking up too much of their time,” says Moors. “It’s a great community event, and I’m glad Hamilton has it, it's just not for me.”
Even if the monthly Art Crawl series isn’t her cup of tea, Moors still views the Hamilton arts community at large as a supportive scene.
“I don’t see much in the way of unhealthy competition, jealousy or othering,” says Moors. “The people I’ve met are so genuinely happy for the success of other artists, and they look out for one another. I appreciate that so much from fellow artists.”
Moors started her Brick and Mortar project once she moved out on her own. “I wanted to get something to commemorate having my own place,” says Moors.
She was inspired by the neighbourhood map prints made by the Jelly Brothers, but since money was too tight to grab an original for herself, Moors decided to make one of her own.
“I was thinking about what to draw when I was looking through a sketchbook and found a line drawing I had done while tabling at a market in Toronto,” says Moors. “It was a drawing of buildings on buildings on buildings, and I realized that was exactly what I should do. Buildings of the neighbourhood I lived in. It helped me to get to know the area, and a couple of people close to me loved it, so I decided to start working on all of the Hamilton neighbourhoods. It’s been a great way for me to connect with the community.”
As well as her visual art, Moors sells collected used clothing on Poshmark. clumsygarbage views fashion as an important form of self-expression, as someone who wants to feel good about what she’s wearing.
“I wasn’t really given the opportunity to dress how I wanted growing up, so I’m all over the place with how I dress now,” says Moors. “Some days it's dark, gothic dresses and corsets with deer teeth for jewelry, other days it's pastel granny dresses and pink pom-pom earrings. I’m not well-versed in the academics of fashion, and I don’t do a whole lot of research into trends, styles, shows or anything like that. But I do my best to shop consciously- you know, second-hand, vintage, and buying from slow-fashion designers/creators.”
Moors’ plans for the future focus on treating herself with kindness and becoming less critical of her work.
“In the past year I’ve challenged myself to be kinder with my work, and it’s really reignited my love of creating and experimenting to see what I am capable of making,” says Moors. “I don’t really have any specific plans other than that. As long as I keep experimenting and creating, I know I’ll find something interesting and worthwhile to do, whatever that may look like.”
Keep an eye out for clumsygarbage’s upcoming website, where she’ll be selling her jewelry, prints and apparel.
“It’s been a fun and somewhat stressful process and I’m so excited to get it up and running!” says Moors. “I share my progress regularly on my Instagram page, so all updates will be available there.”