Collaborative art experience ‘Finding Frida’ on now at Heather Haynes Gallery

The exhibit is on display at the Heather Hanes Gallery in Gananoque until Sept. 30, 2023. Photo by Virginia Macdonald.

The Heather Haynes Gallery in Gananoque Ontario is awash in bold colours and strong feminine energy. This summer the gallery is home to a collaborative art experience celebrating the iconic artist Frida Kahlo.

Virginia Macdonald, a Toronto-based photographer, was inspired to create a photographic series of women styled in the likeness of Frida to capture their “Inner Frida” and pay homage to Kahlo’s powerful legacy. According to a release from the Heather Haynes Gallery, Macdonald journey began in 2013, and she captured her subjects in various countries from Mexico, Chile, China, and Canada.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican artist who, to this day, continues to inspire and captivate audiences with her profound artistic vision and unyielding spirit, the Gallery noted. Her artwork depicted her physical and emotional suffering, offering a raw and introspective glimpse into her life. Kahlo’s unique style blended elements of traditional Mexican folk art with modern influences, creating a visually striking and culturally rich body of work. Beyond her artistry, Kahlo’s unwavering determination and defiance of societal norms inspire individuals to embrace their individuality and find strength in adversity. Frida Kahlo’s artistic legacy remains a testament to the power of self-expression and the indomitable human spirit, the Gallery expressed.

In the autumn of 2022, Macdonald entered into a collaboration project with Heather Haynes, who set out to create a series of paintings featuring Macdonald’s photographs. Finding Frida highlights both Macdonald’s arresting photography and Haynes’ ethereal paintings.

When asked how this collaboration came about, Haynes told Kingstonist that she met Macdonald through a mutual acquaintance. “Virginia was visiting friends from Toronto who had moved to K-town. This couple are collectors of mine and they brought her to see my art gallery and studio,” she said.

“She wanted to help with The Art of Courage somehow… this draw created a friendship between us. She came for a yoga weekend visit and, during this stay, showed me an incredible body of photography she had been chasing for nine years.”

Haynes offered to make the photographs into paintings. Macdonald said yes and moved to the area a couple of months later so they could work on this collection together. 

Virginia Macdonald and Heather Haynes embracing their inner Frida. Photo by Virginia Macdonald.

For both Haynes and Macdonald, the project was a spiritual journey through the making of art. According to the release, the collaboration pushed them beyond their creative boundaries and into a new way of working.

“Working on these pieces has shifted the way I make art,” Haynes stated. “I am so honoured that Virginia has trusted me with her photographs. They are stunning images, so my hope was to do justice to the theme and the years of work Virginia had poured into this passion project, before I met her.”

For Macdonald, the collaboration has been an opportunity to explore new artistic avenues. “When Heather spoke about using my photos in her paintings, it felt like a yes to me. I knew intuitively this was the right time and place and to take this project to its next phase,” she said.

Both artists agree that embarking on the journey to Finding Frida has led to profound self-discovery.

Finding Frida is an “extraordinary showcase for art enthusiasts, admirers of Frida Kahlo, or those seeking a transformative, boutique art gallery experience,” the Gallery noted. The exhibition is on now and will continue until September 30, 2023.

The Heather Haynes Gallery is located at 145 Charles Street, Gananoque, and is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and other times by appointment. The exhibit is free to attend and the pieces are available to purchase.

On the first Friday of every month for this exhibit, the gallery will hold a Finding Frida(y). The first takes place on Friday, Jul. 7, 2023. Gallery doors will reopen from 6 to 9 p.m., and visitors can see the show from a whole new perspective as the work comes alive and changes under night lights. Haynes said the special lighting “makes the paintings breathe.”

Everyone is invited to the free event. “Bring your refreshments and join us outside for an acoustic-based concert from Charles Street Sound Company at 8 pm!” the Gallery said on its website.

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