Missing Women Project
The politically layered and regressive way missing women are dealt with by both the police and the media is extremely disturbing to me. My reaction to these reports, along with the rising incidents of violence against women, has led me to pursue this unsettling topic in my artistic practice.
I am in the process of painting large scale portraits of all the missing women from Ontario, covering the dates from 1970-2000. I aim to take this show to several locations all over the province with an accompanying essay, artist talk and installation style exhibit.
In terms of artistic relevance and innovation; the history of portrait painting is one in which the elite, the influential, the religious and the historically esteemed are the ones who are on the canvases of the portrait painter.
Likewise, I aim to have my viewer interpret these missing women as monumental, relevant, and noteworthy. Through choosing these particular women as subjects and putting them on view for consideration; I aim to metaphorically shine a light on what is hidden or not openly spoken about.
In order to learn about my subjects I am researching each woman in the Canadian Newsstand Database and Pages From the Past archives. I have been reading every available article about each woman in order to gain some insight into her personality and social history. When the reading and research is complete I paint the portrait with some knowledge of the unique personality of each subject.
Issues of which woman are covered by the media, who are investigated by the police and who is focused on by the public will all be explored in this project.
In my initial research, I have quickly learned that women who are: mentally ill, sex workers, runaways hold little or no currency in both the sphere of the media or the state official investigation.
Furthermore, women of colour are largely missing from the data base of documented cases. This creates a difficult challenge. To overcome this, I will have to exit the main stream scope of research and contact women’s groups in order to add more women of colour into my series.
Finally, by creating this unique exhibition I hope to evoke thoughts in the viewer about violence against women in our local environment; one that will encourage further consideration and discussion about what conditions create an environment where women are at risk of violence in our streets, homes and romantic relationships.
The emotionally charged nature of this new series means that the work is not for sale in any way.
I want to be clear that my own motivation of the work is not to profit; but rather to create a discussion within the public about violence against women.