Written by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant
It started with a seemingly simple question: Can you name five women artists?
Since 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) has been asking this question on social media each March during Women’s History Month using the hashtag #5WomenArtists. The campaign calls attention to the fact that women have not been treated equally in the art world, and today they remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses.
Throughout the campaign, more than 1,000 cultural institutions from seven continents and 47 countries, plus over 10,000 individuals have participated online by sharing the stories of women artists!
Below, you’ll find photos and bios by five Saskatchewan women artists. However, this is just a tip of the iceberg! Come into our Gallery, visit our Boutique, and get to know many of the talented women artists who are practicing in your province today!
Both making & pedagogy in clay continually inform Ledingham’s practice along with residing part-time near Chitzen-Itza Yucatan in Mexico. As a worker of “objects in space” she is lured by a love of architecture and design. Wherever she travels, she continually explores the history of clay’s humble usage, whether it be ancient cuneiform tablets, ancient monuments and buildings, toilets, as a food source, or as humble pots. She considers her current “wall” series not only architectural forms but statements which speak to the human condition. “Formalism” as an aesthetic, with its pure use of color, form, texture, contrast, and balance, drives her interest in form. Pivotal to these sculptural “walls” are the pierced surfaces suggesting to the viewer an interior space. The coded punctures (via the use of binary code, braille, Morse code) are a fundamental layer of message and mystery further informing the work.
“As this civilization and its cradle of origin spiral due to conflicts, my interest in the modest material of clay and its origins of usage become ever more endearing and meaningful to me. As workers in clay we should be proud, we come from a fierce and pivotal material.”
Sandra’s formal studies include ceramics with Marilyn Levine at the University of Regina. Her teaching of ceramics and design has included Concordia University, Portland Oregon, University of Saskatchewan, and SIAST (Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science & Technology). Sandra is returning from an exhibition in France informed by location and place examining migration in the Mediterranean by juxtaposing the exotic of the French Riviera, entitled “Departures – Examining a Paradigm Shift.” Currently she’s completing a collaboration in the Yucatan, Mexico with local Mayan potters entitled “Kukulkan.” In 2016, she was invited to collaborate internationally in New Zealand. In 2012, Sandra was commissioned to create a permanent sculpture in Saskatchewan’s Legislature entitled “Multis E Gentibus Vires (Strengths of Many Peoples).”
Sandra has received many accolades and awards for her work over the years, including several “Purchase Awards” from the Saskatchewan Arts Board, five “Dimensions Awards” from the Saskatchewan Craft Council, and a “Merit Award” from the Saskatchewan Wearable Art Gala. A piece of hers recently was awarded first place in 3D work in the online exhibition “FusionArt COLOR,” which entitles Sandra to take part in an exhibition in Palm Springs in February 2020.
Jane A. Evans is a landscape artist living among acres of trees and meadows near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Starting weaving in 1971, Jane became an award-winning fibre artist, author, and teacher throughout North America. Seeking further ways to create her individually characteristic images, she now concentrates on methods of mixed-media collage and printmaking (monotypes) with acrylic paints.
Jane is a founding member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council and has been active in many craft and art organizations. She has training in fine arts from the University of Saskatchewan and University of Wisconsin. She holds degrees in literature and education and is a “Master Weaver.” She has been nominated for Canada’s two most prestigious awards in craft: the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence and the Jean A. Chalmers National Crafts Award. Her woven and painted artworks are in magazines, books, and collections around the world and have won numerous awards in exhibitions in the United States and Canada, including many in the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Dimensions exhibitions.
Wendy Parsons studied at the University of Regina with Marilyn Levine, Mel Bolen, and Don Chester, receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1971. She took further classes there with David Gilhooly and Joe Fafard as well as clay workshops with Ron Nagel (1978) and Jack Sures (1979). Parsons went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, England in 2002. Wendy is a founding member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
Wendy and her husband Zach Dietrich are co-owners of Parsons Dietrich Pottery where they have a studio and gallery. They have built a gas fired kiln and a cooperative wood fired kiln on their property.
Wendy has shown extensively and taught many classes and workshops throughout the years. She is a juried member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council, CARFAC, and the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery. She has served on the SCC Board and the Saskatchewan Southwest Tourism Board. Wendy has been a juror for the Saskatchewan Craft Council, Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Alberta Council for the Arts. Her work has been collected by the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.
Cecilia J. Cote is a potter, stone carver, and sculptor well known for her functional pottery, as well as her organic abstractions in plaster and carved stone. Cote first began work as a potter in the early 1970s, becoming a member of the Saskatoon Potters’ Guild in 1974. She was also a founding member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council and is a Honorary Lifetime Member of the organization. She has served on several art-related boards, including Saskatchewan Craft Council, University of Saskatchewan Extension Department, Saskatoon City Hall Art Advisory Board, and the Saskatoon Foundation. She has coordinated banner, mural, and sculpture projects for the The Saskatchewan Society for Education through Art, City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Centre Mall, Saskatchewan Craft Council, Saskatchewan Children’s Festival, and LuAnn Mitchell of Intercontinental Packers. She holds a Bachelors of Education in art education and a Bachelors of Art in studio art. She later completed the University of Saskatchewan Certificate of Art and Design Program in 2014, focusing on sculpture. Her carved stone works have won numerous awards, including first place finishes in the Saskatchewan Wildlife Art Association‘s juried show in Saskatoon, and the Desert Woodcarvers Show and Sale in Mesa, Arizona. She has been a juried member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council in pottery and sculpture since 2013 and has sponsored the Dimensions Exhibition award for the “Best in Functional and Production Ware” since 2003.
Kaija Sanelma Harris is a Finnish-born Saskatchewan-based textile artist, and a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council. Kaija’s weavings have been exhibited in group and solo shows, and been included in prestigious collections on a national and international scale. Over the years, Kaija took part in 14 Dimensions juried competitions and her participation garnered numerous awards, including four Premier’s Prizes, five Merit Awards, and numerous merit awards from the Handweavers Guild of America. Her remarkable career as one of Canada’s finest textile artists is currently being archived by the SCC in an extensive research project.