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Sault artist Thibodeau’s work to be displayed in London, Milan (3 photos)

Tattoo artist enjoys painting portraits on both skin and canvas; only Canadian artist in Milan show

Not long after displaying her work at the Art Gallery of Algoma, two of Sault artist Katrina Thibodeau’s paintings  will be shown at art galleries in London and Milan over the next two months.

“I’m honoured. I’m so excited. It’s such a huge opportunity. When I got the news that I was having two international exhibitions within two months of one another, I was in shock. I was so excited,” Thibodeau said, speaking to SooToday.

A Sault native who studied art in Toronto, Thibodeau is an entrepreneur (a tattoo artist, she is owner/operator of Discover The Canvas Studio on Wellington Street West) and a contemporary realism artist specializing in portraits.

Thibodeau had a solo exhibition of her work at the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) - entitled The Art of Emotions - from March to September of 2021.

“I really only started getting exposure locally within the last 12 months, so to already have the opportunity to get international exposure so early in my career, I’m just over the moon,” Thibodeau said.

Due to travel restrictions, her plans to attend this month’s London exhibition of her work have been thwarted, but she said “I’m going to do my best to make it to Milan for the January show. I would love to be there and be in person for one of my first international exhibitions. Absolutely.”

An untitled self portrait by Thibodeau will be displayed at  London’s Boomer Gallery from Dec. 17 to 23. 

“It’s me becoming an artist,” said Thibodeau, describing that portrait.

“I’m being a female artist in a male dominated industry, there’s a bit of stress behind that. I’m literally putting paint on my face in the sense of allowing paint to be my voice, that I know I’ll be heard as an artist. It’s my expression on the canvas on my journey into becoming a fine artist.”      

Another Thibodeau painting entitled Restrained - clearly portraying a woman in emotional distress - will be displayed in Milan from Jan. 15 to 29.

She is among a group of 18 artists to have her work displayed at the Milan show, and the only Canadian.

Speaking of Restrained, Thibodeau said “it definitely has a heavy narrative. I did it during one of the lockdowns. Being an entrepreneur, it was quite stressful being closed. That was one of the ways that I was able to cope with it, to paint and create and just change that energy into something else. The woman in the painting is screaming and letting out that energy, she’s allowing herself to release all of that tension, so for me it’s not quite as heavy as it may appear, it’s actually quite liberating and a point of transformation.”

Thibodeau’s oil paintings, at this point in her career, are not in colour, but in black and grey.

She said she is currently exploring the use of colour in her growth as an artist.

“I’m a realistic contemporary artist. I love working with the female form, body positivity, but my main focus is to express emotion and get my narrative across, and in that way impact the viewer.”

Thibodeau said “there’s definitely some commonality (between being a tattoo artist and a fine artist).”

“I love tattooing and I love being trusted with people’s skin to create permanent artwork on them. That’s something that’s very dear to my heart. A lot of what I’m creating with portraiture, whether it’s on skin or a canvas, is very relatable. I’m doing everything I can with my skill set to make my work look as realistic as possible.”

“Art, to me, is a way of expressing true emotion and being able to connect with the viewer.”

Thibodeau said the Sault will always be home in her heart and would not relocate to anywhere else in Canada, but is willing and prepared to move to Europe if a fine art opportunity presents itself.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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