A brief description of the organization
Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA)
Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA) was founded in 1984 to encourage the intellectual and creative development of women in the visual arts by providing a forum for education and critical dialogue. Mentorship is the core activity of the organization.
Senior women visual artists are paired with emerging women visual artists for one-on-one peer-based training and support. This model of art education has proven to be nothing short of transformative, and many women artists in the province have credited MAWA with enriching their professional practices by providing: essential critical feedback on their work at key times in their development; professional skills development necessary for their survival as artists; entitlement and empowerment within the larger art world; and inclusion in the local visual art community. Since our inception, we have provided mentorships for hundreds of women artists in our year-long Foundation Mentorship Program. We partner with different arts organizations each year to add an additional Mentor, to open this program to expanded communities. For example, we have included mentors and mentees from La maison des artistes (Francophone artists), Urban Shaman Gallery (Aboriginal curators) and the Manitoba Crafts Council (craft-based artists).
MAWA also operates other, shorter-term mentorship opportunities such as week-long Master Classes, and three-week mini-mentorships on a specific theme or medium (mini-mentorships take place in Winnipeg and rurally). To celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2009, we conducted an 18-month Curatorial Mentorship Program. Since 2009, MAWA has programmed six-month rural mentorships in a different region of Manitoba each year, often in collaboration with Manitoba Arts Network. We have expanded our reach by integrating Aboriginal Mentors and guest artists into all our existing programs, and by developing the New Canadian Artisan Project, begun in 2011.
Over the years, MAWA has sponsored numerous special projects including Passing Pictures with Prisoners (1998), which developed into the independent organization, Crossing Communities Art Project. Every few years we host a major symposium, such as the recent Art Building Community Symposium (2008) and Sculptural Vocabularies Symposium (2011, in collaboration with the Winnipeg Art Gallery). In 1999, MAWA initiated a 3-day curatorial residency that tabled the LaSalle River Agreement, a recommended fee schedule for independent curators nationally. MAWA has also produced exhibitions including Grrls, Chicks, Sisters & Squaws: Les Citoyennes de la Web (2006), curated by Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, and publications including Technologies of Intuition (2006).
As well as mentorships and special projects, MAWA hosts local artist talks, skills-based workshops, professional practices workshops, critical reading groups, an artist-mothers group, screenings and field trips. Recently, lectures by visiting artists and curators have been presented by Lucy Lippard (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Deborah Kelly (Sydney, Australia), Sara Riel (Reykjavik, Iceland), Rosalie Favell (Ottawa), Allyson Mitchell (Toronto), Yolanda Paulsen (Mexico City) and Minerva Cuevas (Mexico City). We provide a platform for critical writing as well, by commissioning text that appears in our newsletter and on our website.
Although many of our mentorship programs are for women artists, recognizing historical and present-day inequalities, the majority of our programs are open to people of all genders and are offered at low or no cost.
MAWA has over 300 paid members, of whom approximately 80% reside in Winnipeg. An additional 10% are located throughout Manitoba and an additional 10% throughout the rest of Canada. Well over 400 volunteers contribute to MAWA each year.
For more than a quarter century, we have assisted artists at all stages of their careers, fostering professional and artistic development. We have actively impacted and enriched the professional arts community in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and beyond. MAWA continues to innovate (upcoming programs include virtual mentorships!); MAWA continues to grow; MAWA continues to be a site for art discourse, dialogue and community building by providing inspiring, high-quality programming.