Artistic expression has the ability to not only build an identity but also a career. Just ask Toronto-based painter Samara Shuter who from May 8-10 will be premiering her second solo show “Getting To Know You” in support of the Foundation’s IGNITE THE SPARK FUND. Founded by Mark Daniels and Andrea Weissman-Daniels, IGNITE THE SPARK supports kids living in Canada’s child welfare system by funding enriching arts, sports, and cultural lessons that help them build their self-esteem and character.
“This whole series is a follow-up to my first one, which is still the [men’s] suits concept,” explains Shuter. Depicting bright, larger-than-life jackets and blazers, the bold collection mixes deliberate lines and vibrant colours with realistic interpretations of fabrics and shapes. “It’s less fashion-related and more a symbolism of hard work and the boys’ club and societal pressure,” she says. “My reaction to it has a lot to do with architecture and symmetry.”
Although her career originally started in film, Shuter felt a very natural pull towards painting. “I was doing abstract backgrounds and stuff to wind down from my time in the film industry,” she says. “One day I found an old drawing in my memory box. I put the illustration on top of an abstract painting and the feedback was tremendous, so I just kept making them.”
Growing-up in a family that worked in the textile industry, Shuter was inspired by the colours and patterns that surrounded her. “There’s a lot of stuff pulled from that time period,” she explains. “I think that’s why I’m drawn to these sort of colour palettes. It started from there, in a way. I was always doodling.”
Describing her work as a hobby turned career, Shuter adds that painting was the only thing that made her feel “in the moment” and that the suits she depicts are, in part, symbols for finding our individual paths.
“I think focusing on children and their development and inspiring them speaks to me from when I was a kid and really trying to navigate my way through life,” she says. “Creative outlets help kids build confidence. I think they open the minds of children. There’s something about art that is so subjective that I don’t think… I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong. It’s almost a language of its own and how people meet on a common ground through those interests.”
After being introduced to the Foundation and IGNITE THE SPARK FUND during a fundraising event at the home of Mark Daniels and Andrea Weissman-Daniels, Shuter felt compelled to use her art to make an impact in the lives of vulnerable kids. “I just felt like I wanted to do something bigger,” she says. In fact, every time Shuter puts on a show or sells a piece of work, she makes sure to give a percentage back to charity. “Once you’re doing an event, it’s really easy to get another foundation on board. It’s never conflicting or in the way.”
Setting-up shop at the Andrew Richard Designs in Toronto’s historic Distillery District, “Getting To Know You” will not only offer an evening of creative inspiration but also a great opportunity to network. “I like to meet the crowd that comes out, I like to meet the people who support them,” says Shuter. “I get excited with the idea that someone has worked really hard towards something and it sort of leaves them in a very vulnerable place. That’s what fascinates me the most is the vulnerability aspect; there’s a message in people’s work and there’s a huge element of vulnerability there.”