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For Suritah Wignall, art conquers all

April 25th, 2012 · No Comments


Suritah Wignall has earned local and international recognition for her Afrocentric paintings. Jelena Subotic/Gleaner News

By Jelena Subotic

Suritah Teresa Wignall, an emerging African-Canadian visual artist and Annex resident, is an accomplished painter who also takes time to volunteer in the community.

Wignall has earned local and international recognition for her Afrocentric paintings—portrayals of women who define beauty and strength.

“I do focus on women of colour and I just want to see us more in beauty. I want to create that balance, just show the beauty and fill in that gap,” Wignall says.

Wignall’s work has been exhibited in local galleries, from the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. W.) to the Manifesto Festival, and held her first solo exhibit at A Space Gallery (401 Richmond St. West) in 2010.

International recognition is on its way as well. The African Museum of Contemporary Art in San Francisco is interested in showing her work, and she’s getting phone calls from South Africa.

It first started when Wignall exhibited her art in Toronto when she was eighteen. Not in a show, but impressive nonetheless. Wignall designed dressing rooms for acclaimed American singer-songwriters Erykah Badu and Alicia Keys. “I would go in their dressing rooms and do a mini-exhibition, and do the interior design. I got to meet the artists,” Wignall explains.

Since first meeting Badu, Wignall has had the opportunity to collaborate with her. Because of this, she is getting recognized broadly. Wignall says that she is currently focused on reaching out to America and Europe.

“Right now it’s all about making these phone calls and making these connections with museums and galleries, really branching out there. People are hearing about this, that’s the beauty of technology,” Wignall says.

She won The Dr. Paul Garfinkle Award from University of Toronto, which acknowledges young entrepreneurs. “I thank the art foundation; I thank the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council. They noticed all of the work I have been doing throughout the years. I’m thankful for the community papers,” she added.

On top of all this, Wignall is also involved with facilitating art for women. Giving them a space to create, Wignall finds it rewarding because she’s giving back to her community.

“I’m working with women in my community, and then I’m working with women from all over the world,” she said.

She wants aspiring artists to know that a full-time art career is possible. Wignall explains that it is important to also know the business side of things, something many artists struggle with.

“It’s also important to study other artists, and also make connections, not only in Toronto, but outside of the city,” Wignall adds.

She has put herself and her art out there. “That’s something that I would also tell artists, if there’s somebody that really inspires you or motivates you, try and get in contact with them,” she says.

And by doing that, Wignall has come very far. “I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot but I also feel like I’m just beginning. When you do your passion, the universe supports you. You stick with it because that’s what you want to do.”

Tags: Annex · Arts · People · General