Artist uses sports equipment, not brushes, for athletes’ portraits

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Like a variety of different individuals, artist Samantha Woj loves watching Olympic and Paralympic sports activities occasions.

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When the chance got here as much as assist help these athletes, Woj didn’t hesitate.

She’s donated six portraits of athletes to the CAN Fund — Canadian Athletes Now — Auction operating on-line till Wednesday, March 23 at 10 p.m.

Each cent of funds raised will go to the CAN Fund.

There’s just a little twist to Woj’s work. Along with portray with a brush, the Quebec resident paints with items of sports activities tools, together with soccer balls, hockey pucks, ice skates and curling brooms.

It provides a dimension to the artwork and brings consideration to the athletes.

In an interview Tuesday, Woj stated she knew athletes want monetary help to do what they do finest, and that issues have been additional robust for them in the course of the pandemic.

However she was shocked to find how little help Paralympians get. That gold medal doesn’t translate into monetary assist in any respect.

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“I had at all times needed to assist them and present them that their achievements are acknowledged,” Woj stated.

Woj has been an artist since childhood. Final summer time, within the thick of the pandemic, she’d simply completed an MA in Artwork Remedy and had just a little time on her arms. She’d been finding out for a few years and portray lower than she might need appreciated.

Then an ankle damage led her to do some advert hoc physiotherapy with a soccer ball … and the subsequent factor you understand, she determined to use paint with that soccer ball. “I actually appreciated the feel!”

Tennis balls and different sport spheres have been then put to make use of.

As her bio explains, “The usage of sports activities balls embodied the lively and fleeting motion that happens in sports activities … the artworks seize an area to completely maintain and mirror the unseen marks made in these moments.”

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When three black British soccer gamers — Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho — have been subjected to racist abuse after lacking penalty photographs in the course of the UEFA Euro remaining final July, Woj determined to color their portraits utilizing a soccer ball as a substitute of a brush.

It was an act of compassion and solidarity.

And the response was overwhelming.

“I acquired way more response than I assumed I’d get. So I assumed I’d attempt to paint a number of the Olympians going to Tokyo. Simply to indicate them help from again dwelling,” she stated.

“And it simply took off.”

Portray with sports activities tools is just not a gimmick. It forges a special sort of connection, stated Woj.

Utilizing a curling broom, for instance, was an expertise. She found curlers retire their brooms and it was laborious to search out one. Then the widow of an avid roller let Woj use her late husband’s broom. Later she informed Woj she felt a brand new connection had been made.

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“I work so much now with second-hand and damaged objects, and it offers them a brand new life by means of the portray,” she stated.

Woj was born with Ectrodactyly, additionally referred to as cleft arms, and has solely two fingers on every hand. It’s thought-about a incapacity, however to not her.

“I used to be lucky to have supportive individuals round me who by no means noticed it as an issue,” she stated.

Rising up she was concerned in soccer, skating, swimming and dance competitors.

“No one ever informed me, ‘perhaps not.’  Certain, there have been some damaging reactions alongside the way in which, however the majority of individuals supported me,” she stated.

“So sure, I’ve a incapacity, however that’s not what defines me.”

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