A Celebration of Motherhood
Coaticook’s Beaulne Museum is presently hosting a beautiful art exhibit by a young, local artist who began honing her craft at Alexander Galt High School, where one of her works of art permanently graces a wall near the history department, and in the Fine
Arts program of Champlain College. Martine Menard, of Compton, recently graduated in Fine Arts and Art History from Concordia University, in Montreal.
Ms. Menard’s Moments
intimes: les meres is a fascinating exhibit that portrays some of motherhood’s most profound moments through the portraits of pregnant women.
When asked where Ms. Menard, a new mother herself, got the inspiration for the series, she explained: “It all started with a sleeping relative. In my family we had sisters and sisterin-laws all pregnant at the same time. I took a photograph of one while she was sleeping and thought: I have got to paint that!”
And so she did, turning the photograph into a piece aptly named “The Calm Before the Storm”. An ever so slight furrow on the sleeping woman’s forehead reminds the viewer that a worry-free rest, for many expectant mothers, is unattainable. In another of Ms. Menard’s works, one entitled “A Moment of Peace”, she captures a moment of serenity when her subject was having a respite from severe morning sickness. “I really took a lot of time to choose the names,” explained the artist.
The heartbreak of a lost child also features courageously, on the part of the artist and her subject, in the exhibit. The painting of the woman is ever so poignant when you learn that the young woman’s child died of complications at just a few weeks of age. A second portrait of the same woman during a second pregnancy, a charcoal drawing, is optimistically called “Une nouvelle histoire”.
Soon after she began to work on this series, and one wonders how her creative leanings might have influenced this, Martine became pregnant herself, giving her another subject to work with.
“I like to play with how the viewer reacts to my work. For these painting I had in mind that the viewer would feel as if they were seeing a beautiful moment but intruding a little at the same time. I like that dynamic,” said Ms. Menard. “I want people to see them not just as portraits but to see the emotion.”
A trio of interesting face portraits are also part of the exhibit. “In some of my previous work I really had an obsession with eyes. I felt that these three portraits of just the faces of pregnant women link up with my other work.”
Surprisingly talented for such a young artist, perhaps Martine has also benefitted from her association with the artists group Coatic’Art. “I’ve been a member of the group for about one and a half years now. I like being with other artists, sharing and participating in activities. During the Salon des Artistes, in September, we took over the second floor of the Beaulne Museum for an exhibit. Many of those artists were a lot more experienced than me; that was very interesting.”
Unlike many young Townshippers who have gone off to the big city to study, opting to remain, Martine is planning to stay in the Townships. “If I want my career to go forward, I believe I can still do it from here. I just might have to travel a little more.”
The Moments intimes: les meres exhibit at the Beaulne Museum, in Coaticook, continues until January 27th, 2013. Ms. Menard’s next exhibit will be at the Salle du
Parvis, in the Borough of Fleurimont, in May and June of this year.
Artist Martine Menard and her young daughter pose at the Beaulne Museum in front of Ms. Menard’s self-portrait.