LISA, Iqaluit, Hospital Bafﬁn Island
FEAR, New York, NY 2002
'Honourable mention' by Curator MoMA
Painting the Human Condition
For thirty years I have been passionate about two things: painting and helping others as a pediatric nurse. Although cultures, geographic locations and social conditions do inspire me, it is the relationship with the people I am entrusted to care for that have had the greatest impact on my art.
At Toronto SickKids Hospital, I worked with suicidal adolescents in the Crisis Unit. Meanwhile, I was painting large 2-paneled portrait paintings at that early stage in my life.
In Iqaluit, I worked as a nurse for hospitalized Inuit flown in by medevac from the 13 Arctic settlements on Baffin Island. My portraits during this time focused on my patients and others I met living in these isolated and unique communities.
At the New York Foundling Hospital in New York City, the 136 children I nursed were considered marginal and vulnerable. Many were under the age of six and HIV-positive, or had hepatitis. These childrenʼs parents, many incarcerated and/or substance abusers, were often not capable of taking care of their children and left them abandoned.
￼ During my time in New York, I started my abstract series of paintings.
In New Mexico I worked at a clinic run by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. This clinic treated local people who couldnʼt afford healthcare. Many of my self-portraits were painted in this beautiful state that inspires self-reflection.
Iʼm now living in Toronto and continuing my work.
Over the past two years, I have come to understand some of the connections between my medical background (Mental Health) and my art.
Like a former teacher said: A painting is always a self-portrait.
My subjects are primarily abstractions and portraits of people with whom I have a personal connection.
Yet itʼs not their ordinariness that interests me, but the particular specialness of even the most ordinary events and people. That surprising grandeur as a moment comes and passes, while trying to catch it in paint.
Iʼm looking for a face behind a face.
Consider cave paintings 35000 years old
Everything is there: profile, perspective, movement, but also the desire to communicate a message of humanity and creation.
I studied at OCA (OCAD University) and later I worked with Gerry Scott, who taught me portrait and figure painting. Scott was a painter and a student of Fred Varley, the Group of Seven painter. Scott taught me how to look at a face as an abstract painting. By first seeing the traditional form of each part of a face (for example, a cone, circle, rectangle).
And seeing first these classical forms versus a nose or mouth or an eye.
I have an MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY (2000), where I studied with Marjorie Welish and Gillian Jagger.
The work I did at Pratt expanded my interest in ʻwhatʼs real or whatʼs not realʼ.
Since I finished my MFA, I have worked independently to further develop the work I began at Pratt as well as OCAD and have exhibited my artwork in galleries in New York and Canada.