Sault artist Katrina Thibodeau is on a roll.
The creator of large, realistic paintings - many of them self portraits - will have eight to 10 of her works on display at the CICA Museum in Seoul, South Korea April 26-20, 2023.
It will be Thibodeau’s first solo exhibition overseas, her work having previously been shown as part of group exhibitions in London in December 2021 and in Milan in January 2022.
“It’s been a huge goal of mine. I actually have sticky notes all over my house saying ‘become an international artist.’ It was a huge bucket list item that I’ve been working towards, so it feels amazing. I couldn’t be more excited and more honoured to be featured internationally,” Thibodeau said, speaking to SooToday.
“I’ve never been to Asia. It’s a huge opportunity,” Thibodeau said, looking forward to travelling to South Korea next year to receive visitors at her show.
“I’m so excited. It’s going to be great.”
Previously, Thibodeau had a domestic solo exhibition of her work at the Art Gallery of Algoma entitled The Art of Emotions from March to September of 2021.
The artist was unable to attend the London and Milan shows due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“Those shows went very well. I can see the analytics on my website and it was just skyrocketing over in those areas of Europe. I got noticed in a few magazines so that was really neat and hopefully they’ll have me back again,” Thibodeau said.
As for visiting South Korea for her show next year, the artist said “it just makes it that much more real, being there in person, getting to see people view my artwork and how it impacts them and being able to speak to it. I think that’s going to make it better and fulfilling for me as an artist.”
No artist wants to stand still in his or her work, but progress.
“I’ve been working really hard. I’ve jumped into doing full colour. Up until recently I was known as a black and grey, monochromatic artist. It was a learning curve but I couldn’t be happier that I did it. It’s paying off. I think I’ve been able to achieve that realistic effect,” Thibodeau said.
Her body of work so far includes large paintings - many of them self portraits - as well as portraits of others.
She estimates each painting takes up to 80 hours to complete.
Her latest - Torn - is five feet by five feet in size, Thibodeau estimating it took close to 100 hours to complete.
“I’ve found that size is the best way to impact the viewer and get my narrative across. If something’s a bit bigger and there’s so much emotion in it, I find that it hits the viewer in a different way. My goal as an artist is to impact and make people feel emotion, and that seems to be the best way to achieve that, from what I’ve found.”
Thibodeau combines her art with her role as owner/operator/tattoo artist at Discover The Canvas.
“I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like I’m busy. I wake up and I want to paint, I want to go to work and see the amazing clients that I have in Sault Ste. Marie. I’m really blessed with the life that I’ve created. I wouldn’t be able to spend time painting if I didn’t have the support of all the great clients I have.”
Her self portraits reflect her emotions - whether frustration or quiet self reflection - on canvas.
“So many of us go through life not feeling. We avoid emotion, self reflection or simply being alone with our own thoughts. Acknowledging an emotion and expressing it through a vulnerable presence is liberating,” Thibodeau said.
“One of the most life changing things I have done is allowed myself to feel. Whether it’s an emotion society deems negative, or true joy, there is tremendous value in stepping into it, feeling it and letting it pass through you. So many of us suppress, ignore, pass by and judge our emotions. I want people to feel, relate and reflect when they view my work."
"My intention is to provoke emotion and vulnerability.”