Engaging Faces: Celebrating 10 Years with The People of Canada Portrait Project
In 2014, I began a new body of work (series of paintings) The People of Canada Portrait Project, and fast-forward to 2020, we marked the culmination with a groundbreaking 3D virtual exhibition that made waves during the pandemic. As we hit the remarkable 10-year milestone in 2024, I can’t help but extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the bold souls across Canada, engaging with me in this artistic journey.
Out of a myriad of submitted photos, I handpicked twenty, transforming them into figurative landscape paintings that encapsulate the essence of being Canadian. The subjects, captured in selfies with someone significant in their lives, underwent a brief interview process. Twenty questions unearthed the unique nuances of their relationships, thoughts on Canadian identity, and cultural traditions, which I then wove into the iconic Canadian landscapes that became the backdrop for their portraits.
Over six years, amidst the whirlwind of developing my career as a full-time visual artist, this became a passion project – fully funded by yours truly. While online support through blogs, notably from CBC, was abundant, I never sought or received a grant. Unexpectedly, the portraits began to find homes with the very people who inspired them. Some even received prints as a token of gratitude for promoting the project.
Reflecting on this journey, I invite you to explore the intimate interviews and portraits on our project website, peopleofcanada.ca. Throughout this period, I navigated a personal battle with cervical cancer, undergoing surgery and recovery. Although it posed a detour, it never derailed my commitment to both my career and this project.
In 2016, I embarked on a self-funded journey, crisscrossing the country from Yellowknife to Ottawa, with stops in Toronto and Montreal in between, leaving pieces of my story in every city. Some knew of my health challenges, while others didn’t, yet I pressed on, fueled by passion and determination. In 2017, I was contracted to exhibit my work in retrospective art exhibitions, and I took my art on the road, showcasing in solo gallery shows across Alberta. Most notably a 30 painting show in Sherwood Park, Alberta at Strathcona County Gallery @501 and a smaller 20 painting show with Okotoks Art Gallery, just outside Calgary.
Last year brought a transformative residency with the Pouch Cove Foundation in Newfoundland, unveiling the mysteries of the easternmost coast of North America. As 2024 unfolds, I’m eager to commemorate this journey and discover the untold stories it holds. As we step into the New Year, I’m optimistic that choosing to focus on the positives and finding that silver lining will make this year truly great. Here’s to more art, more connections, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead. Happy New Year, everyone!