June 26th, 2009
Pamela Masik stands in front of ‘Mona’, the first of 69 paintings.
Photo: Kristen Thompson/Metro Vancouver
The first painting in artist Pamela Masik’s series The Forgotten (www.theforgotten.ca) was unveiled at The Salient Group’s terminus June 23rd at a fundraising event to benefit a new arts program for women at the Union Gospel Mission in the Downtown Eastside. The painting, Mona, depicts Mona Wilson, a 26-year-old First Nations woman who went missing in 2001. Robert Pickton was charged with her murder.
The Forgotten series consists of 69 massive 8-by-10-foot portraits to remember each woman who has disappeared from the Downtown Eastside. “Because these women were from high-risk groups and marginalized communities, they were forgotten even before they were murdered,” says artist Pamela Masik. “The intent of this work—not just creating the paintings, but the exhibition of the collection with performance and video/photography of the process—is to raise awareness of society’s perception that prostitutes and drug users have no value and can be discarded.”
Masik founded a new arts program at the Union Gospel Mission to help women—many of them friends of the missing women—express themselves through art. “These women are survivors,” says Masik. “I believe it is our collective responsibility to empower them to heal and grow, and live a self-sustaining, healthy lifestyle. That’s the goal of the art program.” Mona and some of Masik’s paintings from her earlier resin series (www.masik.ca/Masik-Paintings.htm) will remain on display at terminus (www.theterminus.ca) until mid-July. Part proceeds from the sale of these paintings will directly benefit the arts program.
“It is an immense honour to have been chosen by Pamela to unveil a work that is so personal, yet so important in the memory of our city,” says Robert Fung, event host and principal of The Salient Group. “Pamela’s new program to benefit homeless women helps make our communities more vibrant, and more livable.”
The Union Gospel Mission is a non-profit urban relief organization serving Metro Vancouver and the City of Mission, providing hope for the hungry, hurting and homeless since 1940. www.ugm.ca
Media coverage of the event can be found at:
Metro Vancouver – Art Honours Slain Women
Vancouver Sun – First of 69 missing women portraits unveiled by Vancouver artist
24 Hours – Mona Remembered
Globe & Mail – Pickton victim honoured in first of portrait series
Video: Toronto Sun – Portraits chronicle city’s missing women
Video: GlobalTV – News Hour on Global, Tuesday, June 23