Viewing Room - Current Exhibition
XX is an exhibition of women who empower and inspire women. Women artists tend to connect on a deeper level, with each other, through their art and their actions. The artists in this show are either teachers, mentors, mothers, or all of the above. They have all benefited from strong female examples who inspired them but now they are going beyond to carve paths for themselves, paths that didn’t exist in the past and in doing so, are leading the charge for the next generation of female artists.
All womens' show celebrating top Canadian artists
Extended to June 20
This all women’s show celebrating top Canadian artists who through their work, teaching and mentorship, empower and encourage other women.
Marion Nicoll, Katie Ohe, Shelley Adler,
Angela Grossmann, Janet Werner, Dana Holst,
Fiona Ackerman, Tia Halliday and Lou Lynn.
Janet Werner lists her mother, grandmother (who was an artist) and her dealer (Megan Bradley of Parisian Laundry) as being strong, inspirational women in her life and then mentions Eva Hesse. Janet wrote; “I have never cited her (Eva Hesse) as an influence but I admire her work and have an image of her imprinted in mind as a young aspiring woman artist. That image did somehow inspire me to think I too could be an artist.”
Mentored by Marion Nicoll, Katie Ohe went on to forge a career as one of the first abstract sculptors in Alberta. Katie taught at the same art college as Marion, and for 40 years, mentored generations of artists.
Angela Grossmann was and remains the only woman in her circle of artists and she only had male instructors at Emily Carr when she was a student. She looked further for female inspiration in great artists such as, Jana Sterbak, Hannah Hoch, Niki de St Phalle and Alice Neel, all of whom dealt with predominately female issues and subjects in their work and challenged the status of women not only in the art world but in society.
There are many artists who’ve inspired Shelley Adler along the way. Two Canadians artists are Janet Werner and Wanda Koop. Shelley writes; “ I met Wanda a long time ago and have known her over the years…but Janet I’ve never met but have admired her work and have definitely been inspired by her work. “ Art historically – Shelley’s roots go back to Eva Hesse and Alice Neel. Shelley says; “Those two would be my art grandmothers. I’ve learned so much from them. Eva Hesse was critical to me when I was an art student - the rawness and honesty of her work hit me like a ton of bricks. I was never the same after discovering her when I was 18. And Alice Neel……what can I say? She kills me. Every time I see her work I feel like I am visiting a great friend who I never get enough of.”
Fiona Ackerman’s work in this show was inspired by Maria Sybilla Merian, a German-born naturalist who was the first to illustrate metamorphosis. Quite a metaphor because by the end of 1699 she had divorced her husband, sold 250 of her paintings and traveled to South America with her daughter to document and study insect life.
Marion Nicoll was a mentor and huge inspiration to Katie Ohe. Marion was one of the first abstract painters in Alberta and in 1933, was the first female instructor at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art, (now the Alberta University of the Arts).
Dana Holst names Jane Buyers, one of her professors at University of Waterloo. Dana said that Jane was extraordinary in that she encouraged students to think beyond and into the future with their work. How hard would it have been for an imaginative Dana Holst to picture her place as a female figurative artist in the future art world? Did she imagine boundaries or blowing them all up?
Another influence e for Dana was artist, Julie Voyce. Julie said to Dana, “Julie said "being an artist was to be a god damn roller coaster car on the tracks" You went up so damn high, the critics loved you, the world was wonderful, then you were inspired do something different or your career took a turn and you plummeted, you were nothing to society, but if you were really an artist you had to take the ups and downs and keep chugging along on the tracks. Otherwise forget it.”
Lou Lynn wrote; “In 1992, I had the good fortune to study glass casting, at the Pilchuck Glass School, with Canadian sculptor Irene Frolic, RCA. At the time, Irene had exhibited and taught around the world and was highly regarded as one of the foremost experts in the field of glass casting. People clamored to get into her classes and I soon discovered why. Not only was she an excellent teacher but she was capable of delivering the most difficult critique with a sense of humor, and she often left her students in stitches. Not only did I learn about the subtleties and frustrations of glass casting, Irene encouraged me to push myself artistically, to work larger, and she taught me how to teach. I had no idea that chance meeting in 1992 would change the course of my artistic life.”
Tia Halliday worked with Janet Werner for her graduate thesis project while at Concordia University. Tia says; "Janet has inspired me ever since I first saw her paintings grace the pages of Canadian Art magazine in the early 200s. As an artist, Janet has persisted in the representation of women through astute paintings that showcase a mastery of both technical painting skills and clever approach to subject matter. Janet was painting women when figuration wasn't popular or highly accepted in art circles. Janet was also painting women when figuration became a very hot subject in the art world. Yet her paintings have always felt very current. She has persisted, always following her own creative path even against popular trends. Janet has tremendous integrity as an artist. In grad school, she was known as having a very "good eye", a keen understanding of contemporary dialogue about art and a strong critical voice. Her paintings are visually mesmerizing, often humorous and sometimes heartbreaking. She was a fabulous mentor and I really value my time working with her and others in the Concordia community.
I have thought of Janet when I have encountered shifts in my own creative path; remembering to stay true to my own vision by drowning out the volume of ever-shifting trends in contemporary art. In the midst of differing tastes and the preferred style of the day, one's authentic vision can be the only firm-ground in this ever-shifting world known as contemporary art."