Friday, June 9, 2023

Women’s Art Association Hands Out Awards At Annual Exhibition

Artist Monique Campbell can officially call her perception “Best in Show.”

The photographer’s artwork, Abandoned Chesterfield #2 won The Viola Depew Ninetieth Anniversary Award recently at the Women’s Art Association of Hamilton’s 127th Annual Juried Exhibition. The artwork was chosen out of sixty-four submissions.

From those submissions, thirty-pieces of art selected from twenty-three artists for consideration in an exhibition. Those selected for the exhibition will have their art displayed at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in the Jean & Ross Fischer Gallery until June 25.

“It was a complete surprise to me to be chosen.” Said Campbell. “I am surrounded by so many talented women artists in this show.”

The Women’s Arts Association of Hamilton has a long history with the Art Gallery of Hamilton, where the exhibition is on display. The Association is one of Hamilton’s longest-standing arts collectives and held their first exhibition in 1896. Their annual juried show has called the Art Gallery of Hamilton home since 1947.

To be considered for the juried exhibition, artists were asked to submit works inspired by the theme of ‘perception.’ To help artists get started in their interpretations, the broad concept was accompanied by a quote from writer Virginia Woolf: “Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes.”

Submissions were received and assessed by a three-person jury, who were pleased by the range of works that were put forward; both in terms of subject matter and media, as well as the stage of career of the submitting artists. This year’s jury consisted of Laurie Kilgour-Walsh from the Art Gallery of Hamilton; Jeannie Kim from Centre 3 and Robert Daniels, Founder and Owner of Earls Court Gallery since 1973.

Fans of Campbell’s work have recognized her photographs for reflecting the world around her.

“I find interest in observing the mundane, the ordinary and the moments most people take for granted.” said the artist.

When it came time to interpret the theme of perception, the artist’s viewpoint combined with finding just the right inspiration at just the right time. While exploring the back country roads in St. Jacobs, the artist happened to come across a sofa in a farmer’s field.

“I heard that there was going to be a storm the next day and I went back to photograph it in the snow. It was gone a week later and so was the moment,” Campbell said.

While she recognizes that viewers will make their own narrative when looking at her work, Campbell hopes that questions arise about why someone would ditch such a beautiful piece of furniture in a farmer’s field in viewing Abandoned Chesterfield #2.

“This image speaks to the consumer waste we see today. Hopefully by studying this image and challenging our perception of a disposable society, the world can change.”

In addition to winning the title of Best in Show, Campbell wins an award of ninety dollars, which she plans on using to honor the award’s namesake; late artist Viola Depew, as well as her own photography practice.

Three artists were also awarded Honourable Mentions as part of the awards ceremony:

  • Mary Cordeiro began exhibiting art when she joined the Women’s Art Association of Hamilton in 2022. Her pastel submission Beauty and the Beach was inspired by a lifelong fascination with rocks and a visit to a friend’s cottage in Selkirk.
  • Anne Smythe’s oil on canvas painting Inside Out-Man is part of a series that she began during the pandemic lockdowns. Through art, Smythe explores the idea of detachment and how it crosses to all different types of people.
  • Anita Thomas’s encaustic painting Defeaning Silence shows wind-swept fields that she says are a representation of turbulent emotions, the transience of life, the passing of time and desolation. The work is completely made of natural materials, including beeswax, tree gum, raw pigments, wood and fire.

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