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Women’s empowerment explored through mixed-media art exhibit at Douglas College

The College’s Amelia Douglas Gallery is showcasing local Canadian artist, Suzy Birstein and her exhibit called Ladies-not-waiting: Las Meninas and CenTauress Sept 19 – Oct 26.The exhibit features a series of sculptures, paintings and mixed media with collages that explore women’s empowerment.

“I am examining the role of women: to serve and to be served,” says Birstein. “Ultimately, my characters have the freedom of choice to give and receive love”.

While travelling through Europe, Birstein saw Picasso’s work inspired by the Diego Velázquez famous painting Las Meninas (translated as Ladies in Waiting). After seeking out and seeing Velazquez’s work  in-person, and pursuing research on the work, Birstein created her own work questioning why ladies are waiting, and what they are waiting for.

“My ladies are gentle women-warriors nurtured by the past, responsive to the present, and driven by a desire to shape fulfilling destinies for themselves and kindred souls,” says Birstein. “The overall tone of my work, although serious and feminist, is also very playful, joyous, colourful and speaks to individuality and universality.”

Birstein’s inspirations come from ancient and contemporary works, as well as from her own travels and exploration of new cultures. She has a fascination for the magic and wisdom of a host of female figures from mythology, fairy tale, and popular culture. Inspired by shrines of terracotta horses in India and Ancient Greek Centaurs, Birstein’s CenTauress focuses more on female empowerment; mixing human and animal, and portraying the mythological centaur as female.

“Women don’t need to wait to be served by their knight in shining armour, instead, they can be that powerful knight,” says Birstein.

The exhibit will be on display in the Amelia Douglas Gallery from Sep. 19 – Oct. 26. An Artist’s Talk will be held on Sept. 24 at 6:30pm and on Sep. 25 at 12:30pm. The gallery, on the fourth floor of Douglas College’s New Westminster Campus, 700 Royal Ave., is a non-profit organization run by members of the Art Exhibits Committee at Douglas College.