Borrowing its title from a Homer Watson drawing (c. 1875), the paintings in O’er the Western Hills were inspired by representations of settler life found in early Canadian ad campaigns that depicted idealized, anonymous women and a romanticized life “on the frontier”. Each painting was conceived in collaboration with the subjects, who appear in their chosen work attire as either actively engaged in work or caught during an introspective moment in the early morning or late afternoon. Students, temp workers, teachers and retirees from a range of specialized STEM fields are represented: fire safety, water quality, wetland conservation, contaminated site remediation, regenerative permaculture, as well as ethics and justice, accessibility and outreach, and astrophysics. Despite their many professional accomplishments, the lived experiences and day-to-day reality of these members of the science community remains largely dominated by masculinity, whiteness, hetero-cis-normativity, and other privilege. The exhibition is not intended as a recruitment campaign for Women in STEM, but rather as a collection of portraits of female and non-binary workers sharing their experiences as we collectively advance toward the unknown.
Thank you to the following participants for sharing your stories: Alina Alidina, Dana Arends, Nicole Balliston, Nandita Basu, Hannah Carton, Roopali Chaudhary, Jody Daniel, Kim Fellows, Emma McKay, Colleen Mercer Clarke, Cheri Mertes, Katarina Milicic, Monica Orwin, Parshati Patel, Courtney Robichaud, Lauren Smith, Thea Taylor, Nicola Thomas, Emily Verkuil.