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Canadian Women Artists – Catalogue

Our Embassy is honoured to display over 180 art pieces by Canadian artists throughout the chancery. However, until recently, these artworks featured few women artists and reflected traditional styles of art. The Embassy’s fine art plan was updated to incorporate pieces highlighting Canada’s diversity, both with respect to visual art styles as well as the artists’ backgrounds.

Canadian Women Artists is a catalogue comprised of pieces by 11 renowned Canadian women artists which have now been installed in prominent locations within our chancery. We are delighted to have addressed the gender balance and included many more contemporary, abstract, and Indigenous pieces in the collection. We are proud to virtually show you these new pieces from the Global Affairs’ Visual Art Collection.

The Global Affairs Visual Art Collection is a dedicated program for the acquisition and circulation of fine art in Canada’s embassies and official residences. The collection consists of over 7,000 works, in a broad range of media including photography, painting, prints and drawings, fabric art, and sculpture. The objective of the Visual Art Collection Program is to showcase original art works from living, emerging-to-mid-career Canadian artists to reflect Canada’s rich and diverse cultural and linguistic heritage. The Visual Art Collection is a key tool in Canada’s cultural diplomacy efforts, using Canadian artworks to stimulate exchanges, create constructive dialogues between societies, improve international cultural understanding, and promote the fundamental values and priorities of Canada’s foreign policy in the world.

© Amalie Atkins (b. 1975, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Photograph, 129.5 cm x 104 cm x 4.9 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2018.5.1

Saskatoon-based artist Amalie Atkins earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Alberta College of Art and Design (Calgary) in 2001.  Through a blend of film, textiles, installations, performance and photography, Atkins creates otherworldly tableaux exploring themes of female family and social bonds in the ritual of everyday life.

This image is a still from the film project Where the Hour Floats, inspired by a poem of the same title by Winnipeg-born poet Jennifer Still. In this work, Atkins assembles young folk dancers in traditional garb on a large mound of black soil, emblematic of the waves of early 20th century immigration to the Canadian Prairies by Mennonite and Doukhobor pacifists.

© Elmyna Bouchard (b. 1965, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec)
Étude pour jour de neige, la paire de gants
Ink stamping on paper, 82.1 x 76.5 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.2.4

Elmyna Bouchard is a Montreal-based artist.  She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Université du Québec (Chicoutimi) and specializes in drawing and printmaking.

Each of these works on paper use a single, ink stamped pattern. The repetition creates a textured surface, evocative of knitted textiles or metal chainmail. The resulting forms appear as garments of mysterious origin and purpose, made by hand through the repetitive application of the slow stamping gesture. “The analogy to textiles suggests the mark of a coveted respite, a thirst for gentleness that stems from a continual questioning due to the erosion of our convictions.” Elmyna Bouchard

Sara Cwynar Hands

© Sara Cwynar (b. 1985, Vancouver, British Columbia)
Hands (Re-enactment)
Archival inkjet print, 157.4 x 249.1 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2018.18.1

Sara Cwynar studied English literature and design before pursuing a Master of Fine Art degree from Yale University (New Have, Connecticut) specializing in photography. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is also a freelance graphic designer for the New York Times.

Cwynar constructs and re-photographs found imagery from graphic design and archival photographs. Her photo-based work explores philosophical theories of how art history, design and commercial advertising construct an experience of seeing and interpreting social values and norms. In this large-scale diptych, Cwynar explores the ambiguity of gesture through close-ups of staged “performances”. The title indicates that this is not only the capture of a particular gesture, but its re-enactment. The camera records a fleeting moment where something is being signalled, but we as viewers cannot link to a specific narrative.

© AM Dumouchel (b. 1984, Ottawa, Ontario)
Flesh and Stones I, II, III,
Scannography and digital collage mounted on acrylic
Three panels, each 203 x 51 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.5.1-3

AM Dumouchel pushes the limits of photography as an expressive medium, by capturing random images, creating camera-less photographs and manipulating digital scans. She explores the algorithms of cyberspace for “found objects”, and recombines these to create strange sensuous bodies that hover between the attractive and the repulsive. Dumouchel is based in Gatineau, Quebec and teaches in the University of Ottawa Fine Art program.

In this triptych from the Flesh and Stones series, Dumouchel combines hundreds of digitized and manipulated images, some of which are still identifiable in the morphed fragments.

“Taking inspiration from representations of femininity in religious iconography and on Instagram, I see these images as allegorical portraits of the contemporary body.” – AM Dumouchel

© Maria Hupfield (b. 1975, Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario)
Recovery of the Whole
Photographic print, felt, 102 x 76 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.9.1

Maria Hupfield is an Anishinaabe artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of fine art programs at Sheridan College, the University of Toronto, and York University (Toronto), working in a variety of media, including sculpture, performance, photography, textiles, video and installation.

Her performance practice references Anishinaabeg traditions as well as feminist performance history. In this series, the artist engages our gaze in the presence of her shadow double, a mirror silhouette composed of thick grey industrial felt, a material repeatedly used in her work. Her art and community-based projects seek to strengthen the retrieval and revitalization of disrupted Indigenous identities.

© Eleanor King (b. 1979, Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Wormhole X
Drawing, 157.4 x 147.3 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.25.2

Eleanor King is a Nova Scotian artist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, a dynamic epicenter for conceptual art practice since the 1960s. King’s artistic practice is based on multi-disciplinary components drawn from music, sound art, social practices, improvisation and other modes of creation, an intersection of her varied roles as performing musician, performer, curator, and art festival director.

In the Wormhole series, colourful, undulating forms trace paths across a white surface.  These “worm paths” are meditative tracings of music CDs, which seem to imprint their syncopated beats in visual form and evoke Spirograph drawings, popular when King was growing up.

© Kathy Kranias (b. 1964, Toronto, Ontario)
Invisibility Cloak 1
Ceramic, 56 x 28 x 28 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.13.2

© Kathy Kranias (b. 1964, Toronto, Ontario)
Growing Wings
Ceramic, 46 x 15 x 15 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.13.1

Kathy Kranias is an acclaimed ceramicist and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art from Concordia University (Montreal) as well as a graduate degree in Art History from York University.  Her small-scale sculptures explore movement, the body and emotion.

These two works are allegories of female agency and protection: Growing Wings, from The Wings series, recalls the classical Greek goddess Nike, the personification of victory as a winged female figure. Invisibility Cloak I refers to the Greek myth of Daphne, the water nymph transformed into a tree by the goddess Gaia as she witnesses Apollo attempting to rape her. Both works embody dynamic movement of the female figure through narratives of flight as freedom or protection.

© Divya Mehra (b. 1981, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Without You I’m Nothing (Eating the Other)
Neon sculpture, 110 x 106.2 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2017.85.1

Divya Mehra received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Arts, Columbia University (New York). Her work explores her personal experiences navigating the social construction of race: as a South Asian Canadian, she mixes popular culture references and acerbic humour to disrupt mainstream narratives of race, marginalization, otherness and diversity.

This work features tasty treats and the invitation “Enjoy Diversity” in neon lights, echoing the upbeat optimism of product advertising slogans. Cultural diversity, Mehra suggests, risks being packaged for consumption as a social good, without closer scrutiny of the long-term effects of colonization and institutional racism. She challenges viewers to consider the perspective of another’s experience.

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© Francine Potvin  (b. 1961, Farnham, Quebec)
Parcelle de temps sauvage
Cyanotypes, 12 prints, each 33.8 x 43.6 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2019.56.1a-l

A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Halifax) and Concordia University (Montreal) fine art programs, Francine Potvin is a ceramicist and printmaker. Her vividly coloured silhouettes of botanical specimens are created using the cyanotype process, using photosensitized paper to produce a cyan-blue print.

In the series Parcelle de temps sauvage, Potvin explores the biological and aesthetic dimensions of Canada’s weed plants, wrongly called “weeds”, and calls attention to the distinction between managed and wild ecosystems.

© Ningiukulu Teevee (b. 1963, Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Northwest Territories)
Lumaajuuq’s Story
Graphite, coloured pencil, 111.5 x 76.5 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection 2018.49.3

Ningiukulu Teevee is one of the most celebrated artists associated with Kinngait Studios (Cape Dorset). Her comprehensive knowledge of the Inuit oral tradition, combined with her distinct, innovative style is expressed through large-scale vividly coloured drawings and prints. In 2017 a gallery exhibition of Teevee’s work was showcased at the Embassy of Canada in Washington.

This drawing is based on an Inuit oral tradition about the impact of trauma on family relationships and the importance of forgiveness in breaking the chain of trauma/revenge. Lumaajuuq’s widowed mother displaces her grief as cruelty to her son. Once a great hunter, the son is now blind due to his mother’s curse. With help of loons, the young man is able to regain his sight and seek revenge, yet upon his mother’s death, forgiveness enables her to transform and Lumaajuuq to forgive. Teevee presents multiple moments of the legend within a single scene: the tormented Lumaajuuq stretches the skin of a recently killed polar bear, whose animal spirit hovers above; the loons, who reveal his mother’s curse and save the blinded hunter from drowning, hover at the water’s edge; the retribution of his mother’s death, drowning as she harpoons a whale, and the power of forgiveness to end continuing pain transforms her into the first narwhal.

Joyce Wieland Hearts

Joyce Wieland (b. 1930, Toronto, Ontario; d. 1998, Toronto, Ontario)
Hall of Hearts
Fabric art, 224 x 183 cm
Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection C.C.86
© National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Joyce Wieland is best known as an experimental artist and women’s rights activist who made extensive use of quilt making and needlework techniques associated with women’s craft traditions. This bright colour field “painting” in the form of a handmade quilt features eight hearts, each a portal to an unknown destiny.

Wieland’s work was part of the surge of optimism of Canada as a youthful, modern, cosmopolitan and autonomous nation in the wake of the launch of the Maple Leaf Flag and the popular Expo 67.  In 1971, Wieland’s True Patriot Love exhibition was the first solo exhibition by a living Canadian female artist to be organized by the National Gallery of Canada.