In celebration of International Polar Bear Day, Canada Goose collaborated with Italian-born contemporary artist Paola Pivi and longstanding partner Polar Bears International (PBI) to create a limited-capsule collection which includes Spring/Summer apparel. With a shared passion for raising awareness of the threats’ Polar Bears and their Arctic habitats face, a portion of every sale from the collection will be donated to support PBI and their efforts to preserve Polar Bear welfare.
We managed to grab some time with Paola to talk about Polar Bears and their habitat, working with Canada Goose and what to wear when it gets super cold.
Your Polar Bear art series is – on the face of it – about joy and fun. How did you balance this with the more serious work around raising awareness of polar bear habitat conservation which Polar Bears International spearheads?
Your question is very good, and the answer might sound simplistic. I’ll try to explain: The point is that my pieces representing polar bears are very effective, so they carry forward a load of communication power, like best artworks do. My artworks originated initially many years ago when I moved to Alaska in 2006 for my love of the planet, and specifically when I discovered the spirit of the bear for which I have nothing but respect. Therefore, my artworks are an authentic ode to the bears. People read the suffering of the polar bears in my art beyond their playful and happy character, because the artwork creates a shortcut between the bear essence and reality and the viewer. Polar bears, before being in pain from global warming, were and are amazing and strong beautiful creatures, and they are not so different or distant from humans, therefore a playful and colourful celebration of their coexisting with us on this planet is also very true to reality and a fitting happening. Stories of a standing bear seen from the back in the wild and being exchanged for a fellow human and numerous. Most humans loved a teddy bear at some point in their life, the connection is already there and ancestral.
Do you think it is essential for artists to engage with real-world events?
I think it is fundamental for every person to do so, especially the world events, small or big, which happen to touch one’s life directly. I live in Alaska, and this is my life which I speak about, it is very close to me. I think if all of us spoke or intervened in matters that touch us, the world would be a much cooler place to be in.
How was working with Canada Goose?
I actually had a lot of fun, I love the collection, it gives me joy to wear, and I discovered in the making how close I feel to fashion, maybe because I was born in Milan, maybe because my best friend is Maurizio Pecoraro, Italian fashion designer and I witnessed his creations for many years absorbing all his moves.
How was your process different for working with clothes from creating art?
I left the know-how of the craftmanship and quality of production to the team at Canada Goose, and I focused exclusively on colours, designs, and juxtapositions of parts, following them when they were leading me about techniques of items developed over decades. I love to collaborate; it can bring to the world things that would not be in it from the new combination of two different energies.
What do you wear when in the cold? Does your studio get cold?
I actually wear padded pants, like skiing pants, every day when outside in Alaska, all winter long, even though most locals do not or do only on the coldest days. I wear a down vest to keep my core “hot” at most times, even inside. I also like the inside long underwear that we use in the cold, it can be playful like the clothes we wore when we were children, it gives so much freedom when we are at home, and we remove the outside layer. I cover my underlayer with a soft skirt when at home, and I can have fun with it. My studio is not cold, it is the former master bedroom of my house and the builder put extra heating in there, it is the warmest place in my house. I freeze easily and cannot function in cold at all!
The Canada Goose x Paola Pivi x Polar Bears International collection is available now across Canada Goose retail stores and online at canadagoose.com
About the artist
Born in Italy, and living in Alaska, Paola Pivi is an artist whose practice is diverse and enigmatic.
Commingling the familiar with the alien, Pivi often works with commonly identifiable objects which are modified to introduce a new scale, material or colour, challenging the audience to change their point of view. Animals are often cast as protagonists in Pivi’s world. She draws upon their perceived characteristics and instills them with human mannerisms. In Pivi’s art, Polar bears practice yoga, hang from trapezes, and engage with one another, sprouting multicoloured feathers. Spanning sculpture, video, photography, performance and installation, Pivi’s practice trespasses perceived limits to make possible
what before seemed impossible. Zebras frolic in the arctic, goldfish fly on airplanes, and in her 2012 Public Art Fund installation at the entrance to Central Park in New York, a Piper Seneca airplane was lifted on its wingtips and installed to constantly rotate forward. Until April 4th 2023, her public artwork “You know who I am” is on view on the High Line in New York: it consists of a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty featuring emoji-styles masks representing individuals whose freedom is connected to the United States.