Today we’re joined by Orla. Orla is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in traditional mediums, painting specifically. She works with a variety of paints: oils, acrylics, and watercolors. Her work demonstrates a vivid imagination and a masterful use of color and lines. Orla is also a spoken word artist and her spoken word art deals with a variety of topics. She’s an incredibly dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
Oh I always find this question so difficult. I’m a visual artist and a spoken word artist. I love life drawing and portraiture and I work with oils, acrylics and watercolors. My favourite medium is oil pastels. My visual art deals with themes like nature and dreams and my personal mental health. My spoken word deals with relationships, (cultural) politics and mental health among anything and everything.
What inspires you?
I like narrative poems and telling stories and I love spoken word that is really heartfelt and uses personal experience to relate to political issues.
I’m really interested in disability politics and justice and the work of community art with oppressed groups. I guess I’m inspired by the idea of art as a tool for social change and personal narrative as a tool for empowerment.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I was a constant doodler in school. I was always confused about what I wanted and still am somewhat am. Hard to say what got me interested, it was always natural and almost compulsive to draw. I had a great art teacher too. I also had friends who did art and this all had an influence on me. I wanted to study art but was swayed by other opinions like it would never amount to a career so I studied politics and now I’m trying to combine the two. It’s only dawning on me in the last few years that art and spoken word are truly what I want to spend most of my time doing and I’m trying to work on that. I got interested in spoken word when I became unemployed after university and joined the Dublin Writers Forum. They were an inspiring bunch of people and introduced me to open mics in the city. I didn’t even know spoken word existed before then! However I love helping people and have a certificate in adult health and social care, my last job was in a kindergarten and before that I worked with adults with profound multiple learning difficulties. I hope to continue working in social care perhaps with homelessness until I save enough money to do a masters in art psychotherapy.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
No. Although I go through thematic phases. I did a series of poems on free speech and I went through a phase of putting starry skies everywhere in my art because of a dream.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I am one of those lol!
Do it all the time! I wish I could take my own advice though as I get lazy and miserable often lol.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I spent quite a while trying to figure this out but I can pretty firmly say I’m gray-sexual now. Sex isn’t a big factor for me in relationships, the only thing I find ‘hot’ about people are their personalities and I’ve never had a sexual fantasy, I just fantasize about conversations haha. I’m hyper-romantic though if that’s such a thing and fall in love with everyone like a lunatic. I’m cisgender.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
So so. I’m sex positive, enjoy sex and have a long term partner. People find it very difficult to get their heads around having sex and being on the asexual spectrum and don’t understand the difference between a need for sensual intimacy and experiencing other varied forms of attraction and not sexual attraction. I guess because the majority tend to experience sexual and romantic attraction simultaneously whereas I tend to only experience romantic attraction and very rarely sexual attraction with it.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
As I mentioned people find it hard to differentiate between romantic and sexual attraction probably as I said because they experience it simultaneously. As it’s outside their realm of experience they don’t understand the concept of fancying someone without wanting sex. Also people seem to think you can’t be sex positive or have sex at all if your on the spectrum. Basically it all boils down to taking the feeling of sexual attraction as a default and thinking sex is impossible without it.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
That’s me lol. Do research and talk to queer friends.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I also run a creative mental health magazine distributed free to mental health services, which you can find on: http://www.facebook.com/anomaliemagazine
Thank you, Orla, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.