Judy Schmidt’s art is all about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
The mostly self-taught artist is hosting her first solo exhibition this weekend and she hopes Calgarians are inspired to be “a little more brave, a tad more curious and a touch more hopeful.”
“I want you to see something in this exhibit that you can’t escape. I want you to feel something that awakens hope, and most of all, I want it to inspire you to do something that is brave,” she says.
“This project was a real personal body of work. There are people in places who have influenced me. I’m hoping that they will be meaningful to the viewer as well so that when they leave, they’ll consider who and what is meaningful in their own life.”
How it all began
Schmidt discovered her artistic expression about 12 years ago when she found an artist to come to her home and teach her mother how to paint. She worked alongside them and realized she had a passion for art herself.
“I decided that I wanted to have original art on my walls and that I would be the artist,” she says.
While she mainly taught herself, she credits professional mentors and artists along the way with helping her hone in on her skills.
A style steeped in her family’s history
She describes her art in the style of German Expressionism and she was lured to that style for a couple of reasons.
“One of them, I call it a romantic reason, because my mom was born in Germany, and although she spent most of her life in Saskatchewan, our heritage is from Germany,” she explains, adding she loves the style of painting it entails.
“It’s quite eclectic. The colours can be quite strong and dissonant, unusual. There are distortions in it. And that’s planned. So, not everything has to make sense or be completely realistic. And I really liked that.”
While Schmidt describes her subject matters as generally straightforward, she appreciates the “chaos” that German Expressionism adds to her work.
“I love the contrast that those two things bring,” she adds.
Thriving in uncertain times
When it comes to her exhibit this weekend, she hopes Calgarians are able to appreciate the theme of thriving in these uncertain times.
While she thought of the idea of the exhibit before the pandemic, the COVID crisis has helped her hone in on the theme of hope and curiosity.
“As I was working on these pieces and thinking about their meaning to me while talking to other people, it just became clear that people were really using this time in the pandemic to reflect on their life in general,” she explains.
“And people got very reflective about what was important to them; they were making decisions about where to work, and having to be at home with their kids and how they were going to make that work.”
Tapping into the hope and curiosity of people
She says most people she talked to were grateful for what the pandemic was teaching them and realizing what was important in their life.
“It just struck me that we all think that we lead such ordinary lives. And yet, when you dig deeper, it just becomes clear that it’s not ordinary at all. It’s really extraordinary because people are digging deep and hanging on to those things that are meaningful to them.”
What Schmidt discovered in other people was a lot of bravery
“I still hear from people who are hopeful. And it feels like it’s been a really long haul, but I think that’s what’s in each of us. And that’s what I wanted to show in some of these paintings.”
Schmidt will have 20 pieces at the intimate exhibit, which is happening on Friday, Nov. 26 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at Loft112 located at 535 – 7 Ave. S.E. in East Village. Registration required.
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