Kingston’s all-female artist organization is showcasing their biggest exhibition yet at the Tett Centre.
From Oct. 26 to Nov. 25, the Organization of Kingston Women’s Artists (OKWA) will be presenting an open exhibition at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning to share their artwork with community members and art lovers.
OKWA, a non-profit group comprised of 57 female professional artists, provides a network for female artists in the Kingston community to exchange ideas. Artwork is accepted by juried application only.
The large, open space of the gallery allows OKWA to showcase a variety of different art mediums, ranging from acrylic and oil on canvas to sculptures and photography.
“We support each other in art-making — it’s a regular forum for artists to be able to share their work,” OKWA member Mary O’Brien said.
In her acrylic and collage on canvas piece “Gibara Bound”, O’Brien mixes photography with painting and blurs the line between them.
“I’m currently working with mixed media on canvas, more specifically photography inspired by the places I’ve traveled to. On a past trip to Cuba I noticed a wall of a train station as I was passing by — it was something that no one gave a second thought, yet I saw the life in the dead, skeleton building,” O’Brien said.
“I’m inspired by ordinary things that have a modest beauty to them.”
The artist looks to unexpected places for inspiration and highlights the importance of appreciating beauty within everyday life.
JT Winik, another member of OKWA, delves into the raw emotion surrounding the political conflicts in the Middle East. In her piece “Orphan”, she examines the ugly tragedy of war.
“As I often use children metaphorically in my work, “Orphan” burgeoned as an emotional response, representing the death of innocence,” Winik stated in an email to The Journal.
Winik also stated that her involvement in OKWA has made her feel connected to her home.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working in Europe, mostly Amsterdam and also around Guadalajara, Mexico. Being away for lengthy periods over many years, I was eventually feeling disconnected here,” Winik said.
“Working in a foreign country is inspiring for many reasons, but working at home is too.”
Since its conception 26 years ago, OKWA continually has provided a sense of community and a forum for support for local female artists, something that some artists felt had been missing amongst previous communities of women artists in Kingston.
Winik says OKWA has made her feel much more integrated into the artist community.
“As an organization of women artists from this area, we are committed to mutual encouragement and challenges,” she said.
Artist Michéle LaRose takes a more abstract approach in her piece “Marsden Meets Julie”, an oil painting on canvas.
“My intention is always to create works with lots of energy and points of contact that can allow viewers to see or imagine many different things and allow for a sustained and repeated engagement with my work,” LaRose said.
O’Brien says OKWA plans to return to the Tett next year and run workshops with the exhibition, so visitors can learn to make their own art.
“We just want to get people involved in creating,” O’Brien said.
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