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Saskatoon Express: Instagram post leads to big opportunity for local artist

Posted on 2018-03-13 in Alumni

Abstract painter Steph Krawchuk (BFA'06) studied in the College of Arts & Science.

(This article was first published in the March 12, 2018, edition of the Saskatoon Express.)

By Shannon Boklaschuk

A local painter is lauding the role social media can play in connecting artists worldwide, after an Instagram post led to her inclusion in a New York City exhibition.

One of Steph Krawchuk’s abstract paintings was included in Group Show—which was held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 at the Milk Studios in New York—after she learned about the open call exhibition via Instagram. Renowned artist Lucien Smith, the 28-year-old behind the non-profit STP, organized the show, which featured 43 works chosen from more than 800 submissions.

Krawchuk learned about the open call by following the Half Gallery on Instagram. She decided to submit her newest painting to an email address included in an Instagram post from the gallery.

“Then I found out, like maybe a month and a half later, that they wanted my painting,” Krawchuk said, adding “it kind of took me off guard.”

“I have applied to a number of international things—not a lot, but a few—and I’ve never (received) a reply, which I don’t think is unusual. So at first I didn’t believe it, because the email said, ‘We’re moving the show from L.A. to New York, so we’ll get back to you.’ And that just felt very surreal to me, and then I didn’t hear again until probably three weeks—so I wasn’t even sure if this was really happening.”

However, more emails did arrive, and Krawchuk, who earned her bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Saskatchewan in 2006, was soon on her way to New York. When she walked into the large exhibition space at the Milk Studios—which has previously housed high-profile events, including the MTV awards party—she didn’t immediately see her painting.

When she turned into a hallway, however, she saw it displayed with four other pieces. She described it as “a quieter space of the whole party.”

“It just fit the space. It was kind of a unique painting; there weren’t a lot that were as abstract as mine, and the painting is quite bold—with colours—so I can see why they put it in that space. It was kind of a loud piece, I guess.”

For Krawchuk, who is from Prince Albert and now lives and paints in Saskatoon, being included in the show was an honour. She said it was “just amazing” to see her work on display at the event, which attracted international artists as well as Hollywood star and activist Susan Sarandon.

“I had a smile on my face the whole night, for sure.”

Krawchuk met three other artists—hailing from San Francisco, New York and Paris—at the exhibition, and “everybody seemed equally as pleased to be in the show,” she said.

“These are people from around the world—I know there was somebody from Australia as well—and there was, I think, only one other Canadian. I don’t know that there was another there, so that’s pretty cool, too.”

Krawchuk said social media can play a role in connecting artists with various opportunities, noting others included in Group Show also found out about the exhibition via Instagram.

Since submitting her work for the New York show, Krawchuk has noticed many other open calls on social media. The process to submit one’s work can be fairly easy, she said; sometimes it’s as simple as including a hashtag to have a piece considered for judging.

Krawchuk describes Instagram as “an equalizer for so many artists.”

“So it’s really a platform that you can tell galleries are seeking talent through this and, equally, I think the artists (are) looking for opportunities, too,” said Krawchuk.

“With the Internet, it’s like you can get your painting anywhere,” she added, noting she derives inspiration from viewing other artists’ work on social media.

“You see stuff that people are making today, and I find that connection to artists very important.”

Krawchuk, whose paintings have been showcased in numerous exhibitions in Saskatoon and Prince Albert, said being part of the New York show gave her “a big, big boost in confidence.”

“I don’t think, though, I’ve ever really lacked much confidence in my work; I’ve been painting for a while, and I haven’t really stopped. But, I think, this is sort of a new confidence to consider, really, other opportunities.”


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