In their 30th anniversary year, Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA) are once again inviting applicants to their Foundation Mentorship Program (FMP). A cornerstone of MAWA’s programming, this program has been offered to over 200 artists since their inception in 1984.
Through the FMP, MAWA hopes to increase visibility and participation of women artists in the broader community.
“We want to see women artists be confident, have exhibitions, make artwork, and be recognized in professional spaces,” says Lindsey Bond, MAWA’s interim programming coordinator.
“[The FMP] is important because it enables women artists to explore issues of sexuality and gender in an all-women atmosphere, allowing women to take up space and assert their own viewpoints – rather than deferring to a male perspective.”
The program pairs a senior artist (mentor) with a developing artist (mentee) for one-on-one and group meetings over the course of a year. “Both mentor and mentee gain valuable experience from their mentoring relationship. This relationship should not be underestimated, as it is very, very important! It creates lifelong connection [between] the two women but also a lifelong bond to the community that can last for year after year,” says Bond.
Mentors are selected by a committee of the MAWA board, based on their suitability for acting as a role model, their capacity for community-building, and their connections within broader art communities. They also look for a “balance of artists who work in different mediums, and have diverse life experience, and art practices.”
The mentees are then chosen by the FMP mentors “based on the merit of the artwork,” says Bond. Mentors for the 2014-2015 year include Divya Mehra, Mélanie Rocan, Reva Stone, and Daina Warren. In order to ensure that they are reaching diverse communities, the FMP partners with other organizations such as La Maison des Artistes, Urban Shaman Gallery, Manitoba Craft Council, and Arts and Disability Network Manitoba.
“We encourage diversity in age, education, and cultural background to have a wide variety of opinions and values present at the meetings. MAWA encourages artists who are out of university/school for a year or two as this program is to aid with the next step in the artists’ career, when the support of school is gone,” says Bond.
Past participants of the FMP have continued on to graduate studies, secure grants for other projects, develop their artistic practice, and built their artistic networks.
Bond believes that the FMP assists artists in surmounting various obstacles to achieve their artistic goals: “There is an infinite number of barriers women artists face today: giving herself permission to be an artist, financial obligations, confidence, finding the balance between work and family, equality of opportunity.”
“The FMP allows discussion, life experience, safe environment, and professional advice [ . . . ] to help women overcome these obstacles,” says Bond.
At the end of the year-long mentorship, mentees display their work in an FMP showcase.
While reviewing the 2013 showcase, local artist Steven Leyden Cochrane underscored the importance of the FMP: “The FMP is one of the Winnipeg art community’s defining achievements, and the year-end showcase exhibition of participants’ work isn’t one to miss.”
The deadline for the FMP is April 26. See www.mawa.ca for more details.