Ethan Seaborn, May 11, 2023, Airdrie CityView
Painting portraits of the women and sharing their stories alongside them, Funk hopes viewers of her latest pieces will recognize the contributions women bring to the table.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted every sector and individual in multiple ways, but it was women who seemed to take many of the knocks when it came to job security.
Local artist Veronica Funk addresses this reality in her upcoming exhibit “Woman Work,” in which she completed 50 hand-painted portraits of women. The exhibit will be on display at a gallery in Calgary throughout the month of June, with special guests being invited to participate.
After losing her job amid the pandemic, Funk wanted to see if other women had gone through something similar. Putting out a call on social media, she invited women from all over the world to share their experiences.
Hearing the tales of women from different careers, Funk noted it was disheartening to hear many had stories parallel to her own. With a desire to emphasize what women bring to the table, the long-time Airdrie resident and local painter created an art series to highlight their worth, and the paintings will soon be on display at a gallery in Calgary's Bridgeland neighbourhood.
“I wanted to validate women, their experiences and their contributions,” she said.
Funk was able to hear stories from almost every corner of the world. From Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, women shared how their work lives had been uprooted or impacted by the pandemic over the last few years.
As families were beginning to self-isolate at home in 2020, Funk said a lot of the responsibilities fell onto women. From house cleaning to taking care of relatives, women stepped up to the plate.
“It was quit fascinating to hear the same experience,” Funk said. “Responsibilities in the home were left to women, whether that was educating children, or caring for ill relatives or friends.”
In creating her new exhibit, Funk said a major challenge was waiting to hear from participants. Some of them, she added, needed time to warm up to the idea of sharing information from their personal lives.
In order to alleviate some of the pressure, Funk made it a priority to share the positives, instead. She wanted to allow women the opportunity to share whatever they felt comfortable with sharing.
Painting portraits of the women and sharing their stories alongside them, Funk hopes viewers of her latest pieces will recognize the contributions women bring to the table. She hopes her work will leave people wondering what would happen if women were not a part of society.
“I just want them to be inspired that an everyday woman can make a difference in the world,” she said. “What they contribute does matter to somebody.”
At the end of 2022, Funk put on a similar series of female-focused portraits called “Extraordinary Women.” The exhibit highlighted the contributions of present-day women within Canada.
A subject of “Woman Work,” Heather Patterson, has been invited by Funk to participate in her upcoming exhibit on June 15 at 7 p.m. Patterson worked in hospitals at the time of the pandemic and documented her experience through sharing photos, which she later compiled in a book.
“She took a lot of photos during the pandemic in the ER and has published the book and she’ll actually be doing a reading at my exhibit in Calgary,” Funk said.
Funk’s upcoming exhibit will showcase 50 of her painted portraits alongside the subjects' stories. It will be on display throughout the month of June.
Those wishing to view the exhibit next month can visit the Sparrow Artspace inside the DeWaal building in Bridgeland, just north of Calgary’s downtown and the northern banks of the Bow River.
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