By Hannah Many Guns
CALGARY – Growing up, Calgarian artist Mike Hooves fed their fascination for animation by spending hours playing Mario Paint on their Super Nintendo. Now at 25, Hooves is an artist, animator, illustrator, and filmmaker whose work is playful, whimsical and gestural. “Not completely polished, either,” says Hooves, “I like it to be a little rough.”
Creating art largely from a queer, feminine perspective, Hooves also pulls influence from nature, which they attribute to their upbringing. “My Dad actually lives and works in a provincial park, so when I was younger he took me on a lot of hikes,” says Hooves. “I still go on hikes, but doing that when I was younger shaped my art a lot more.”
This past December, Hooves painted a winter mountain landscape on the +15 windows in Bankers Hall for the Bud of Bud Artist Collectives Augmented Reality Art Show. “I like the mountain-scapes that are just beyond Calgary that you’re always seeing when you’re in the city,” expresses Hooves. “When you see them, there’s that lingering thought of ‘there’s freedom, it’s so close to us!’ But it’s outside of Calgary. That influences my work a lot – that wilderness.”
Continuously building off their naturalistic, queer, feminine perspective, Hooves has been shifting their focus from drawing and design to filmmaking. “I like filmmakers who work with small budgets,” says Hooves. “It makes their work more honest in all aspects of their films.” Over the past year, they’ve filmed and premiered two of their own small budget short films; POLYMORH, which is about Hooves’ gender identity, and G.E.M., a collaborative documentary that focuses on Good Life Community Bike Shop’s weekly Gender Empowerment Mechanics (G.E.M.) program.
“I actually made these two films at the same time,” informs Hooves. “I didn’t really know what I was doing. A day of filming for me was just trying to pool my experiences together with the other people who I had to help me on set, and figuring things out. I liked to make it so I was working in spaces where it didn’t feel like I had to rush, so there was no malice or anything, and everyone was kind so we’d figure things out together. It was very collaborative, it was all about shared knowledge. Nobody really knew what we were doing overall, but we all knew how to do little pieces.” For these two shorts, Hooves’ counts John Waters, Maya Deren, and Norman McLaren as her inspirations, along with countless underground animations.
Presently, Hooves is working on a project with Fairy Tales, Calgary’s Queer Film Festival. “They’re going into their 20th anniversary this year, so they’ve commissioned a short documentary about Calgary’s queer history,” says Hooves. “I’m on the project with my partner, and I’m helping mostly with animation and info-graphics, like animating a map that shows the locations of where all our old gay bars used to be.” The film, Outliers: Calgary’s Queer History, will premiere at the Plaza Theatre.Calgary’s Queer Film Festival, Fairy Tales, Local filmmaker, Mike Hooves, Outliers, Outliers: Calgary’s Queer History, POLYMORH