Coming of Age

Detail from Virtues & Vicissitudes by Ramune Luminaire.

The Link, Autumn 2017
| by Josie Newman |

Three Peterborough-area female artists have collaborated on an exhibit which celebrates the aging woman as a powerful and wise force.

“As women age, they are marginalized and devalued in our culture,” says Judith Mason, one of the three artists whose combined work in Coming of Age depicts the physical ailments, the social issues and stigmas, and the impact of relationships which arise as people age.

“I would like to invite people…to think about their own lives and to reflect on the past and on the present.”

“All three of us are facing things shutting down in our lives while other things are opening up,” says Mason who is turning 60 next year. “Now there is a beautiful opening of my art career, however, in the art world 60-year-old women artists are not really listened to. I would like to tell the real stories of what it is like to be 60 in 2017.”

Mason’s work, which consists of abstract paintings and mythological drawings as well as marionette-like figures made from felt, focuses on the importance of relationships.

“With my husband’s death at 59 I realized how life can disappear at any time. My art is important, but my relationships with others is the most important” she says.

Letting Go by Judith Mason

In one of her pieces she focuses on the sexual because she says so much of her identity as a woman was centred on how men viewed her as an attractive, sexual being. “That all changed when I hit menopause.”

Ramune Luminaire’s art examines the aging woman’s circumstances and everyday realities, as well as society’s attitude toward them. Her humorous wall piece entitled Virtues and Vicissitudes, a spin on the game Snakes and Ladders, has several panels of paintings depicting the ups and downs of life for women over 60. She based it on interviews with 60 women over the age of 60 concerning their fears and hopes for the future. She is also a sculptor and has a life-sized woman displayed in the exhibit, her head thrown back in abandon, with several negative phrases written underneath to illustrate society’s often negative view of older women.
Mary Kainer focuses on the physical process of aging and the wealth of diseases that can bring, through a variety of drawings and ceramic figures. Some of her drawings are based on medical images of the most common diseases and syndromes afflicting the elderly, such as cancer, dementia and over-prescription of drugs.

Dementia by Mary Kainer

Coming of Age, to be held in the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, will feature the artwork on the main floor of the gallery. The Centre, a refurbished old mill, has an upstairs attic where personal artifacts from the three artists’ lives will also be displayed. “It will be symbolic of the personal attics of our lives,” says Mason. “I would like to invite people to our show to think about their own lives and reflect on the past and on the present.”

On opening day only, between 2 and 4 pm, Mason will enact a 15-minute performance piece, based on a poetic text in which a woman in her 60s is waiting in her doctor’s office to find out whether or not she has a serious disease.

The Coming of Age exhibition takes place September 3 through October 1 at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington in Bowmanville. Opening reception is September 3 from 2 to 4 pm. Closing reception with curator and artist talks is October 1 from 2 to 4 pm.