Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA) is a Winnipeg-based artist-run centre that encourages the intellectual and creative development of women and gender minority people in the visual arts by providing education and critical dialogue. It is a thriving, intergenerational community, devoted to shared knowledge and resources.
Since its inception in 1984, mentorship has been the core activity of the organization and the key strategy in redressing gender inequality. Senior artists share experiences, networks and know-how with emerging artists, ensuring that each artist does not have to “reinvent the wheel”. This model of art education has proven to be nothing short of transformative, and many artists credit MAWA with being pivotal in their professional careers.
MAWA provides other learning opportunities, such as artist talks, discussion groups, workshops in particular artistic skills, professional development workshops, lectures, critical writing opportunities, studio visits with established curators, film screenings, showcases, panel discussions, an artist in residence program and a resource centre/lending library. Programs are led by leaders of a wide variety of backgrounds and experience to ensure diverse points of view and a welcoming environment for everyone.
Special projects of the past decade include: the “Who Counts?” national symposium (2014); creation and publication of Desire Change, the first textbook about feminist art in Canada (2017); Resilience, a cross-country exhibition of works by 50 Indigenous women artists on billboards (2018); and Resilience: 50 Indigenous Art Cards and Teaching Guide, a tool to help educators K-12 integrate Indigeneity into the classroom through art (2019), now in its second printing (2021).
Through its activities, MAWA has supported some of the most established artists in the country, and continues to foster generations of artists and art-lovers to come.
Shawna Dempsey is a visual artist working primarily in performance. She is also a curator, art writer, mentor, teacher and arts administrator. She has collaborated on her artistic practice with Lorri Milan since 1988 and co-led MAWA with Dana Kletke since 2008.
Dana Kletke is a mixed media artist based in Winnipeg. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the U of Manitoba and has a Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Winnipeg. Her work explores themes of memory, fragility and the process of decay. She shares the position of Executive Director of MAWA with Shawna Dempsey.
Art Education Specialist
Yvette Cenerini (née Lagimodière) is a franco-Métis visual artist from Manitoba who lives and works in Winnipeg. Behavior and relationships are recurring themes throughout her work in media arts and printmaking. Having obtained both a BEd (2001) and a BFA (2010), knowledge-sharing in the forms of teaching, mentoring, cultural mediation and community engagement is important in her practice.
Administration and Communications Coordinator
Alison Davis is an artist focussing on traditional animation and drawing based in Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg. She has created numerous short animated films that have screened at festivals and events around the world. Also a long-time arts administrator, she is currently the Administration and Communication Coordinator at MAWA.
Program and Outreach Coordinator
Adriana Alarcón is an artist living on Treaty 1 territory. An immigrant from Guatemala of complex identities. As a Mestiza woman she recognizes Maya K’ekchi’ and Spanish ancestry, though no direct claim to indigenous community. Adriana uses home fiber crafts, such as knitting, crochet, embroidery, beading and weaving. She prefers to work with the brightest fibers “from back home” that reflect the colours and textures of her childhood. Adriana has a bachelor’s degree from York University majoring in Cultural Studies. She has combined her art practice with arts administration in Toronto and Winnipeg.
Niamh Dooley is an Anishininew (Oji-Cree) and Irish contemporary artist based in Winnipeg. She is a band member of St. Theresa Point First Nation (Mitheynigaaming) in Treaty 5 territory of Manitoba (part of the Island Lake communities) but grew up in Treaty 3 territory in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.