TRU arts student explores beauty in monsters

Dani Kohorst stands with the paintings she’ll show in the TRU grad show. PHOTO BY JENIFER NORWELL

Jenifer Norwell:  Omega Contributor Ω

Art can mirror culture, but what’s being reflected in the work of one TRU fine arts student is monstrous. Dani Kohorst is using pop culture’s obsession with vampires, werewolves and monsters to inspire a cheeky take on the creepy in her colourful oil paintings. The fourth-year arts student has had shows in British Columbia and the Yukon. Her work appears regularly in the TRU gallery and she has plans to take her work international. This summer, she hopes to finish her degree through an exchange program with the University of Tasmania. I met up with her at the TRU painting studio to find out more about her relationship with monsters.

Q: You’ve been recently getting into the monster genre?

A: I started with the classic films like Nosferatu, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein—this type of classic movie—and just been moving on up right up to contemporary movies and just like finding humour in the dramatic shifts that have happened in terms of how these monsters have evolved and how their very nature has evolved to the point where, in my opinion, it’s getting ridiculous.

Q: When you take something that can legitimately scare people and turn it into art, what do you consider?

A: My art is more about analyzing a specific character and then also alluding to other characters that are similar and just commenting on how they fit in. I haven’t really picked scary monsters in my opinion. Originally in classic horror, yes, they frightened people but we look back on them and they’re not scary, so I’m more just commenting on the nature of the monster.

Q: You have a real Twilight theme.

A: Twilight is a hot movie to pick on these days. There’s a lot of criticism about it and a lot of parodies about Twilight and I thought I’d use it because the characters seem to be popular enough that people can recognize them, recognize their faces and put them in context.

Q: And they’re just so sexy.

A: (Laughs) They are very sexy, but it’s sexy to the masses. Particularly like the Twilight characters play to teenage fantasy and they look to these men as being the male role, this is the role of an older man.  There’s like some weird lines that people are trying to figure out how to cross and they’re making themselves feel better by wrapping these monsters up in beautiful sexy packages.

Q: Why do you think we need monsters?

A: People have a desire for fantasy and they have a desire for something that may seem impossible in their mundane life and they’d be more than happy to be glamoured by this fantasy for two hours.