llene Sova Missing Women Project





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Published on Mar 23, 2013

Video of Ilene Sova's Exhibition "The Missing Women Project" at Creative Blueprint Gallery by Halfway There Productions


The politically layered and regressive way missing women are dealt with by both the police and the media is extremely disturbing to me. My reaction to these reports, along with the rising incidents of violence against women in my social circle and society at large, has led me to pursue this unsettling topic in my artistic practice.

I am in the process of painting large scale portraits of all the missing women from Ontario, covering the dates from 1970-2000. I aim to take this show to several locations all over the province with an accompanying essay, artist talk and installation style exhibit.

In terms of artistic relevance, and innovation, the history of portrait painting is one in which the elite, the influential, the religious and the historically esteemed are the ones who are on the canvases of the portrait painter. Likewise, I aim to have my viewer interpret these missing women as monumental, relevant, and noteworthy. Through choosing these particular women as subjects and putting them on view for consideration; I aim to metaphorically shine a light on the gendered violence that is hidden and not openly spoken about in our communities.

In order to learn about my subjects, I am researching each woman in the Canadian Newsstand Database and Pages From the Past archives. I have been reading every available article about each case in order to gain some insight into her personality and social history. When the reading and research is complete, I paint the portrait with some knowledge of the unique personality of each subject.

Issues of which women are covered by the media, who are investigated by the police and who is focused on by the public, will all be explored in this project. In my initial research, I have quickly learned that women who are: mentally ill, sex workers, or runaways hold little or no currency in both the sphere of the media or the state official investigation.

Furthermore, women of colour are largely missing from the data base of documented cases. This creates a difficult challenge. To overcome this, in the next phase of my project, I will have to exit the main stream scope of research and find more 'missing women of colour' to add into the project.

Finally, by creating this unique exhibition I hope to evoke thoughts in the viewer about violence against women in our local environment; one that will encourage further consideration and discussion about what conditions create an environment where women are at risk of violence in our streets, homes and romantic relationships.

Due to the emotionally charged nature of this new series the paintings will not be for sale, but will be exhibited in various locations to create a larger discussion and raise public awareness about violence against women.


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