Artists Statement: “Heaven and Earth” at Gallery 1313
Sheila Carson is a figurative artist whose work is inspired by the photographs she has made over the years of family, friends, as well as people encountered during travel to Mexico and Costa Rica. She works in a number of mediums, including pen and ink, graphite, watercolour, pastel, and most recently oil.
She drew as a child, encouraged by an artist mother, and after a long working career has been able to explore her own creative voice through studies with Sadko Hadzihasanovic during the last five years. The portraiture of those who have been significant in her present and past has allowed her to continue that journey.
Sheila was brought up in Toronto and studied art history at the University of Toronto.
Romi Samuels was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her interest in art evolved naturally from her upbringing where art was part of her everyday life. She fondly remembers visits to the Johannesburg Art Gallery with her mother, Hadassah, who herself was an artist, art critic and art teacher, and whose paintings adorned the family home.
While living in Canada, she studied at various art institutions including the Dundas Valley School of Art, Central Technical College and with Toronto artists Sadko Hadzihasanovic and Suzanne Metz.
In her new series, “Heaven and Earth”, her birds are an expressionist metaphor for freedom, fragility and power. Her large canvasses in dramatic black and white and her bold and energetic strokes embrace the struggle against the forces of nature.
She explains that it was her experience watching gulls in a squall that motivated her to explore birds in flight.
I was taken up by the wind and weather as the birds were tossed in the turbulence. I saw an opportunity to create intense and vibrant images with shafts of light, clouds, feathers and beaks. The expressionist approach that I had used for more traditional subjects was very suitable for capturing these fleeting images in a spontaneous and dramatic way.
Romi feels that, more important than the artist, is the viewer; in the words of critic F.L. Alexander “a work of art is a spiritual experience… the lines on paper remain dead matter until they gain life through, the eye of the spectator.”
Romi currently works in Toronto where she resides with her husband and three children.