“It is an honor to be affiliated with Outreach United,” stated Ewen.  “The leadership and community support they provide is truly inspirational. Through this collaboration, I hope to reflect the transformative effects of Outreach United’s programs in my art."

Jane Ewen is very pleased to be recognized as the Outreach United Artist of the Year for 2016. Ewen is a Houston based contemporary painter with degrees in Art, Art History and Education from the University of Toronto and diploma from Canada’s Sheridan School of Art and Design.

 

Over the years, Jane has worked as a painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and muralist. She is a member of Houston's Archway Gallery.

Jane’s current abstract paintings explore color, texture and movement. Reflective surfaces, textured surfaces, or pours are used as a foundation to initiate the visual conversation. The accumulation of subsequent layers develop additional depth and color richness forming an engaging and complex statement.

 

Jane will auction off one of her piece, You Choose, at the Coming Out on October 8.

She describes the process to create the piece below.

This year I was invited to become involved with Outreach United, then to incorporate this knowledge into my work.  This has been in inspiring journey for me.  I wanted to reflect what 2016 has meant to Outreach United and the LGBT community in my art.  2016 has been a very difficult year for many in our community.  My painting has become about pain and how we all can choose to overcome our suffering.

This art is titled it, “You Choose”

Let me begin by walking you through the timeline of how this piece was made.  The painting evolved in stages over the year, and became a reflection of many of the events that took place.

Early in the year I completed the initial pour.  It covered the entire canvas.  It was airy and complex.  I used multiple colors, fading in and out with the yellow energy dominating. Strong clear colors working harmoniously. There is a lightness, a dance perhaps.  A strong light from within offered a focal point and a sense of direction.  I left the work at this point, content that I had captured the vibrancy of the LGBT community.

Later in the year, news of North Carolina anti-trans regulations prompted me to re-visit the piece.  Unconscious of the purpose, I added an external structure with use of frottage.  (Explain the area that looks fractured, broken)   I now see this as reflecting external structures being imposed by the State Government.

Then the horror of June 12th; Orlando nightclub massacre. The news was unspeakable.

I found myself drawn again to the work, adding dark blues over and over. I tried to put some light into the piece. I considered representing the people who were killed.   I went down to the Montrose Center to the vigil which Outreach participated in. Gary and I talked about the events and my work and he suggested I simply paint it black.  When back in the studio I took a handful of textured red paint and slashed the surface.

The painting became dominated by my emotion of pain and anger. It became overcome by the grief of the massacre.

When I return to the piece again, it became clear to me that my painting was suffering.

I remembered a narrative about the difference between pain and suffering…

Pain is always there, but suffering is a choice we make.

Someone else said, “Pain is in the body. Suffering is in the mind and it feels infinite. So maybe the key is to feel your pain and learn from it. And someday your suffering might disappear."

We choose how we react to oppression.  If you think about it, Suffering is self-imposed from within.  It’s a choice we make.

In the days after the massacre, I experienced a coming together of the country in support of the LGBT community.  The Orlando LGBT community’s pain became the countries pain, and we mourned together.  I also watched how, (after grieving) the community refused to withdraw into isolation, refused to become collectively victimized, and refused to suffer.  Our choice was to move forward and continue to live our lives.

Then, I knew how to fix the weightiness of the suffering of the painting.  It is a matter of attitude; a matter of perspective; it’s a choice.

You Choose.

Now the visual life of the painting erupts out of the darkness.  It tells an inspirational story of overcoming tragedy.  The pain is still there, but the painting’s narrative is now positive and uplifting.

Finally I want to share with you how I see this canvas as a metaphor for the work Outreach United sponsors.

The people we help often come from circumstances where they are overcome with pain and grief in their personal lives.  They are suffering.  Your agencies are transformative.  They help injured people cope with their pain, help them to stop suffering and move on with their lives.  They help people understand that their suffering is within their control and helps them find a way to choose not to suffer.

Part of the beauty of this painting is the story behind it.  Show back of painting…

Should you become the owner of this painting, you (like all of us) will be faced with the choice between reflecting suffering or living life to its fullest.

 

You Choose.