May 27, 2020

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Through the disquieting looking glass

Manitoba artists feed creative hunger with pensive portraits framed – literally and figuratively – by the unsettling reality of sheltering in place 

We’re all spending more time inside our homes, with the view of the outside world framed by our windows.

"Maybe you’d like to join me in drawing the view from your window instead of just staring out existentially," local artist Natalie Baird posted on her Instagram page in mid-March.

Social media hashtags such as #seeyoufrommywindow and #uskathome, as well as prompts from galleries and online art clubs, are encouraging artists to take inspiration from these new limitations. Here are a few local creatives who drew the view from their side of the glass.


Art teacher Stacey Abramson poses in a window in her house with her son, Louis Chevrefils, 6.

Art teacher Stacey Abramson poses in a window in her house with her son, Louis Chevrefils, 6.

Stacey Abramson

Abramson, a high school art teacher, in her Winnipeg home on March 26. She’s been self-isolated since March 14 (she has multiple sclerosis, which put her in the high-risk category), and sent out a prompt to some of her classes to find inspiration by drawing the view from their windows.

Louis Chevrefils drew the view out of his window with Abramson, his mother.




Chantal DeGagne with Josey and Eloïse Krahn.

Chantal DeGagne with Josey and Eloïse Krahn.

The Krahns

Photo-based artist Chantal DeGagné, musician Josey Krahn and their two-year-old daughter Eloïse on March 27. The piece of art was a collaboration: DeGagné took one photo and Krahn took another in the double exposure, which revolves around their daughter. They have been self-isolated since early March, when Eloïse was feeling ill.

"My practice as an artist has interwoven itself deeply into the tiny spare moments between the little fractions of time that appear within the all-encompassing role of motherhood. In these moments where I have a minute to look up from the constant juggling, I feel time slow down, where the light seems to shine just right for a brief moment and I feel a strong urge to respond as an artist," DeGagné says.

"For me, this has always been done with a camera. Because of Eloïse’s big presence, my subject is almost always a documentation of this beautiful evolution of this incredible little person. I am so grateful for these moments and to be witness to her joy and experiences in life."




Natalie Baird

Natalie Baird

Natalie Baird

Since much of her work involves travel to northern communities, she’s been using this time to edit, process, write, draw and figure out how to support those communities remotely. Activities such as life drawing, sewing club and art hangouts via Zoom have also played a role in staying connected to friends and co-workers while practising social distancing.

"Anything we can do to feel connected and creative in our lives is helpful," says Baird.




Ainslie Davis </p>

Ainslie Davis

Ainslie Davis

Sandy Hook-based painter Ainslie Davis (above) in the back doorway of her home (where she paints in the winter with a view of the lake) on March 29.




Heidi Hunter </p>

Heidi Hunter

Heidi Hunter

Heidi Hunter, Winnipeg Beach-based multidisciplinary artist, poses for a portrait in her window on March 29. Hunter has been self-isolating since March 10, and says that life right now is "breathing and drawing."




Jonathan Dyck </p>

Jonathan Dyck

Jonathan Dyck

Freelance illustrator, designer and cartoonist Jonathan Dyck in his Wolseley apartment window on March 30. He’s been participating in an online "quarantine art club," which sparks creativity by providing daily drawing prompts.



Updated on Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 8:40 PM CDT: Fixes multiple typos

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