Work of the Week selection inspired by Pink Shirt Day

Date: Feb 28, 2024

February 28, 2024 is Pink Shirt Day. It was first started in Canada in 2007 and is a significant day that raises awareness about bullying.

In recognition of this day, we would like to share the late Violet Owen’s Pretty in Pink.

You can access resources to help you or someone you know who is being bullied, and learn how to prevent bullying.

Violet Owen
Pretty in Pink, 1995
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

About the artist

Violet Owen passed away on January 21, 2024, at the age of 93.

Owen was a professional artist for over six decades and played an important role in molding the foundation of Edmonton's art scene. The AFA is proud to hold a number of Owen's artworks within its Art Collection.

We extend our condolences to her family and friends.

Violet Owen’s oeuvre features paintings, drawings, and sculptural work, all deeply rooted in explorations of the female form. Inspired by modernist art movements including post-impressionism and German expressionism, Owen wrestles with ideas of form and mood in her work, articulated through pose, placement, and the strongly accentuated forms of the models she paints.

Owen graduated from the Department of Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1953, and has continuously developed her strong aptitude for drawing and colour. There is a spontaneity and restless energy in Owen’s work, as if the artist clearly follows her own path rather than following a group esthetic. She attributes this attitude and her ability to work without fear to the longevity of her practice. During an interview in the early 1970’s, she explained more: "As you get older, you get more aggressive. Sometimes you're afraid to do certain things but the older I get, the less afraid I am … what the hell!"

Owen worked solely with artist and model Mimi Mah for fifteen years, capturing the many facets of this single personality with utter clarity. She once declared the figure to be the most challenging subject to paint, and after building up a lifetime of body art captured in chalk, pencil and paint on paper, canvas, and Plexiglass, she has grown comfortable in her own skin, and with exploring the essence of female sexuality.