WAG Honours Thirty-Year Anniversary of MAWA
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is honouring the 30th anniversary of MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art) with an exhibition featuring artists connected to this local arts organization. For three decades, MAWA has earned an international reputation for encouraging and supporting the intellectual and creative development of women artists, arts writers, and curators in Winnipeg. MAWA: Celebrating 30 Years of Women’s Art is now open and runs until September 28, 2014.
Formed under the umbrella of the then artist-run Plug In Gallery (now Plug-In ICA) in 1984, MAWA was created in response to women artists receiving fewer exhibition opportunities and academic positions than men, despite forming the majority of art school graduates. MAWA sought to improve these inequalities by providing educational opportunities. Today MAWA has over 200 members, approximately eighty percent of whom reside in Winnipeg.
“The selection of artwork exhibited, drawn from Winnipeg Art Gallery’s permanent collection, reflects various members, mentors, mentorees, and program participants over MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art)’s history,” comments Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “The WAG congratulates MAWA on this milestone anniversary, and recognizes it for its integral role within the fabric of Winnipeg’s artistic community.”
The WAG enjoys a long partnership with MAWA. For example, the Gallery hosted MAWA Crafternoons sessions, free, fun, informal workshops in craft-based techniques, as well as various talks connected to the Wendy Wersch Memorial Lecture Series. Most recently, the WAG hosted an artist talk by Rebecca Belmore in relation to its Off the Beaten Path: Women, Violence and Art exhibition with which MAWA assisted.
"In celebration of all that MAWA has accomplished, we are proud to partner with the Winnipeg Art Gallery and every visual art gallery in Manitoba to present Manitoba women's art,” comments Shawna Dempsey, MAWA Co-Executive Director. “The WAG exhibition is especially meaningful to us, as it highlights the work of our mentors, and includes the Winnipeg tradition of feminist painting.”
At the heart of its programming is MAWA’s Foundation Mentorship Program, which involves pairing established women artists with emerging women artists to share skills and professional networks, and provide critique and feedback. Since 1985, over 200 women artists have benefited from participating in this intensive year-long program, working with artists at the top of their fields. MAWA has partnered with different Winnipeg-based arts organizations each year since 2008 to add an additional mentor, and thereby open the program to different communities.
Over the years MAWA has initiated a wide range of programs in response to the evolving needs of the community. The majority of these programs are offered at low or no-cost to people of all genders. At present, programs include symposia, publications, residencies, exhibitions, local artist talks, international curatorial talks and studio visits, lectures, workshops, a contemporary craft program, film screenings, an artist-mothers group, and field trips.
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