Local Artist Focuses Attention on Marginalized Communities

Munea Wadud is a local artist who creates pieces surrounding marginalized groups that are underrepresented in mainstream art, focusing more around women of colour, as well as queer and gender non-conforming identities.

Wadud said she draws based on her experience as a woman of colour, using mixed media to create her artwork–often with acrylic paint, watercolor paint and pencil crayons.  

“I draw as a woman of colour painting women of colour. In the past it has been white men painting women of colour and their version of them . . . There is a lot less drawings of (women of colour in mainstream art), and the drawings that do exist of them, they are exoticized," she said. "My art is about visibility and representation."

Breaking away from the art focused around Christianity and European culture, which is historically taught in schools, Wadud said she would like to see more children taught about Indigenous artists in Canada.

As a child herself, Wadud said drawing was the only hobby she was interested in, but she did not feel represented in the art work she was seeing.

"I didn’t learn how to draw people who are not white and thin . . . I questioned why I didn’t draw people who looked like me," she said. "(I) looked it up and challenged myself (to draw outside of the norm)." 

Wadud said she did not realize her art was powerful until she started attending art fairs, where people would tell her they saw themselves and felt represented in her art. She added her art is important because it represents a community that needs to be heard. 

Not only does Waddud think her art benefits others, it has also been a saving beacon for her. In the past, instead of harming herself, Waddud said she has poured herself into her art to create a positive release. 

"It’s coming from someone that has been through a lot with race, gender and mental illness, and I hope that they know that," she said. "I’ll draw things that are colourful and bright that remind me of how beautiful earth is and how life is worth it."