A Girl’s Journey from Rock Star to Erotic Photographer – Canadian Artist Alicia Hoogveld

Contributed by Gary BrantGalerie St George,  Staten Island, New York

Calgary, Alberta CANADA – 18 September 2009

Alicia Hoogveld has always been surrounded by creative people from a very young age, growing up in a middle-class household in Calgary, AB. Her father, a guitarist/musician and painter, was an early influence on this young artist who has just graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design.

At the ripe young age of twenty-four,  Hoogveld today has fond early memories of watching her dad playing guitar and singing in the family’s Catholic Church choir.  It wasn’t long before she was singing out of her bedroom window at night, and having bright fantasies of performing on stage.

Those dreams were to be fulfilled in due course, after studying piano, voice and clarinet for six years and then at the age of thirteen, Hoogveld met Lauren Beardsworth, a fellow classmate in her junior high, who taught her how to play the guitar.

Hoogveld was quickly captivated and, with her new friend, began to play in local coffee houses and recorded songs at Beardsworth’s guitar teacher’s house.  For the next five years, the duo played in various band formations with other classmates through high school, culminating in an offer from Her Royal Majesty’s Records label to do a record deal.

This was an exciting time in her life, just graduating from high school, working in a record shop, practicing and playing with her group, performing gigs in the local indie music club scene in Calgary, and preparing for a move to Vancouver to work with the record label.

The flight plan suddenly crashed to earth as Hoogveld and Beardsworth could not agree on the style of music to be produced on the new album.  As she says, “When I turned 19 I was out of a job, a band, and any money”.

Her parents offered to let Hoogveld move home and pay her college expenses, which she agreed to do if she could fall back on her love of photography, which she had been doing along with her music since junior high school when she learned how to develop black and white photos in a shop class. Determined to learn all she could about becoming a professional photographer, Hoogveld took up her parents’ offer and began classes at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

While studying photography with other students, the majority of which wanted to pursue careers in advertising, editorial or fashion work, Hoogveld felt a different calling with her personal portraits of fellow musicians, and natural outdoor locations.  Being brought up in a church-oriented household created many conflicts in the young Hoogveld, as she states,”Growing up in such a strict Catholic environment pushed me to seek out freedom in creativity. I was a completely lost, depressed teenager until I found an outlet in rock music. It probably saved my life. I moved out the week I turned 18 and spent a year rebelling against every rule my parents had pressed on me. I needed this time to find my own personal boundaries, and figure out who I was. By the time I moved back home and started art school I had calmed down a lot but the rebel that was created came out in other areas. I admired my classmates work, but it just didn’t seem to fit me right. It took me a long time to find my own voice. I feel that I am still trying to figure out who I am and photography has been the best vehicle for doing so”.

Her love of music came forward again when a classmate in a painting course alerted her that a local band, Creature Republic, was looking for a singer.

After a meet-up, the three band members gave Hoogveld a CD of their original music and asked her to write up some lyrics, which she threw herself into and was quickly accepted after they saw, and heard, that she was a great talent.

Practicing hard, the group soon was playing local clubs and making a name for themselves, recording their first album “Watch Your Aim” in a friend’s tiny bedroom with makeshift gear. The group enthusiastically made t-shirts, pins and bumper stickers to promote the new album, and started to get a local fan base.

Shortly after the release of the album, the lead guitarist quit the band and Hoogveld was asked if she’d be able to fill in as his replacement.  Being unsure, she forged ahead and the band was reformed as a three-piece outfit, with Hoogveld out front as lead singer and guitarist.

A new album was planned, and the group decided to do a live recording off the floor at a local studio called Sundae Sound.  The sound was heavy metal, with Hoogveld’s blistering guitar layered into a wall of sound in the new release “Apparitions of Apathy”, producing a minor hit with the track “Blood on My Hands” which can be heard in this article by clicking the file below.

“Blood on My Hands” by Creature Republic

At the height of the band’s success upon the release of the album, things began to disintegrate beginning with tensions between Hoogveld and her boyfriend, the drummer in the group.  Soon after, the bass player quit to move back to the east coast of Canada, and the final straw came when her boyfriend announced he was moving to Montreal.

The breakup with her boyfriend weighed heavily, and with no stability among band members, Hoogveld packed up her music gear from the group’s practice space and turned away from her music, deciding to focus on her photography and developing her personal portraiture, which often included shooting bands during live performances, and individual subjects in their natural environments, not staged in a studio as was the de rigueur of her fellow students.

After graduating with a design degree from ACAD in May, 2009, Hoogveld continued with occasional editorial assignments and band promotional photography, trying to find her way as both an artist and a commercial success as a photographer.  Shooting young female models, a style began to emerge in her work which included self-portraits and working in a panoramic sequence, combining several images in one panel.

Her unique viewpoint caught the eye of New York City gallery director Gary Brant in August, who contacted Hoogveld about becoming a featured artist in Galerie St. George, which focuses on emerging artists.  Soon, a kinship was struck between Brant and Hoogveld, and their collaboration produced a new series of photographs involving femininity, self-exploration, sexuality and cinematic story telling through stark imagery.

Hoogveld was officially joined to the gallery, and in her own words, “Thanks to the gallery signing I have had a boost of confidence that has encouraged me to do what I truly want with my photography.”

Her new series of self-portraits entitled “The Passions of Alicia”, document in black & white imagery the mysterious workings of the feminine psyche, the rush of youth to fulfill sexual desires, and the strong commitment of this young artist to honestly present her persona to her public audience.  Hoogveld found her groove and her enthusiasm produced stunning results right away.

“I was struck by the strong feeling that Hoogveld had for her subjects, and her mastery of light and composition under difficult conditions in the field,” Brant says, “Now the challenge was to turn her abilities to a much more difficult subject, herself, and to make a new series of erotic self-portraits that would rattle many conventions, making her work unique in the world.”

Hoogveld is now working to complete the collection, which will comprise ten panel photographs and be accompanied by a hand-written diary that documents each work, giving the viewer a personal insight into the making of these breakthrough photographs.

Upon the release of “The Passions of Alicia”, a video with all of the works onscreen, and with an original soundtrack by Hoogveld, will be available for viewing by contacting Gary Brant at Galerie St. George (gb@galeriestgeorge.com).

As the collection goes to completion, interested parties may also see the works in progress at: http://www.galeriestgeorge.com, or receive additional information by calling: 1-513-ART-SHOW.

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