SWFT: Supporting Women, Femme and Trans Artists Group Exhibition

Mori McCrae, Oomph, 2022, soft sculpture, canvas, and pigment

SWFT: Supporting Women, Femme and Trans Artists Group Exhibition

February 4 – March 30, 2023
RiverBrink Art Museum, Queenston

Curated by Asta McCann and Co-organized by Magdolene Dykstra

This group exhibition features five Niagara-based artists from the SWFT (Supporting Women, Femme and Trans) Artist Group. SWFT draws together a diverse range of perspectives and mediums, including drawing, painting, the Indian folk-art form of Madhubani, sculpture and video art. In their work, these artists explore a myriad of themes including gender identity and performativity, trauma and recovery, the universal cycles of transformation and human connection and memory throughout the pandemic.

The thread that ties these dynamic works together is creativity as a form of resilience. In these practices, art acts as a powerful tool for empowerment and identity affirmation, reflection and recovery, growth and transformation, and human connection.

Featured Artists:
Mori McCrae, Luce Latour Mooney, Rea Kelly, Rajshree Jena, Roselyn Kelada-Sedra

Rajshree Jena’s Me+Thy+Trees series of acrylic paintings draw inspiration from the traditional Indian folk artform of Madhubani. Madhubani art was traditionally created by the women of various communities in the Mithila region of the Indian and passed on through centuries. Powdered rice and natural pigments are used to create bold geometric designs and patterns that often depict spiritual images and deities, social celebrations and symbols from nature. Jena’s intricate paintings act as self-portraits that reflect her own personal narratives and connection to nature- specifically her affinity for trees. Her background in architecture informs her meticulous attention to detail. Birds, fish, bees, flora and fauna, and other natural elements are depicted using precise lines and vibrant colours that fill every inch of the canvas.

Luce Latour Mooney explores psychological experiences close to their heart- trauma, queerness and the process of recovery. Their multidisciplinary practice embraces the eco punk ideology, an artistic movement that works toward a more sustainable future, often using found objects and recycled textiles. Their triptych of vivid watercolours composed of Inner Child Unsettled, Tyranny’s Child and Trapped in a Cycle reflect childhood wounds, familial patterns and the breaking of cycles. Inspired by psychedelic liquid light shows of the 70’s, Mooney’s use of watercolour applied in thick layers creates kaleidoscopic imagery, while organic shapes and primary colours coney the raw emotion behind the series.

Rea Kelly’s art practice is rooted in exploring and experimenting with portraiture. In her most recent series of pastel and ink drawings, Kelly employs the figure of the clown to challenge and disrupt conventions of femininity, as it exists in the patriarchal context. Haunting and sinister faces, based on models from Vogue Magazine, peer out from the canvas to directly confront the viewer’s gaze. The women wear smeared white, pink and blue face makeup which exaggerate their distinctive features. Thread is stitched around the boarders, directly into the paper and canvas, brining attention to the construction of the medium itself. Clowns are predominantly portrayed by the male figure, and Kelly reverts our expectations though applying aesthetics and ideology associated with the clown to the female body. Her work critically explores how femme bodies perform their gender in order to adhere to societal norms and expectations.

Mori McCrae’s whimsical soft sculptures explore the universal cycle of transformation and the doctrine of original sin. Withered apple cores made from raw canvas in earthy russet, brown and gold pigments, evoke the biological cycle of birth, growth, decay and death, to which we are all subject. For McCrae’s newest series of “skirt sculptures” she recalls techniques from her Grade 9 Home Economic classes and uses a sewing needle to connect pieces of raw canvas that form figurative shapes. These wearable designs embrace a sense of humour and absurdity to poke fun at the doctrine of original sin. Bush, for instance alludes to the creation myth of Adam and Eve. Living and working in the Niagara Region, in everyday proximity to orchards has also provided McCrae with inspiration for this body of work.

Mixed-media artist and filmmaker Roselyn Kelada-Sedra pulls from video, sound, dance and her background in performance to create complex narratives centred around bold BIPOC women. The video installation 6&8 is composed of three projections running simultaneously on a loop. The central narrative follows two characters, played by actor Diarmuid Noyes and Kelada-Sedra herself, as they navigate the challenges of long-distance love and loss in the digital age. Their conversations, recorded over Zoom, Whatsapp and other platforms we’ve come to view as normal during the pandemic, give the viewer a voyeuristic peek into the lives of two people falling in love and falling apart. Two other videos, projected on walls opposite each other, consist of post-modern dance pieces that reveal the true impulses and hungers in the body, which counter what the characters present. Kelada-Sedra raises the question: how do we remember something that never quite happened?

Upcoming Programming:

Film Screening: Women of Resilience by Roselyn Kelada-Sedra
February 11, 2023 5-6:30 pm
More info

Artist Workshop: Indian Folk Art in a Mindful State Workshop with Rajshree Jena
February 18 & 25, 2023, 1:30-3:30 pm
More Info

Riverbrink Art Museum logo

Riverbrink Art Museum
116 Queenston St.
Queenston ON
L0S 1L0

Social Media
Facebook: @RiverBrinkArt
Instagram: @riverbrink_museum
Twitter: @RiverBrinkArt