Michèle Mackasey: Cheryl Kemp and her Family (detail), 2010, 5ft h x 6.5ft w, Acrylic on linen

Michèle Mackasey: face à nous


Saskatchewan-based artist Michèle Mackasey has created a new body of work that puts the spotlight on single mothers. In Mackasey’s life-size paintings, the artist imbues her subjects with the dignity and status associated for centuries with portrait painting. Yet these portraits depict families who continue to live on the margins, facing prejudice and economic hardship as the mothers balance the roles of sole provider and caregiver.

These portraits of local families capture the bond between mothers and their children, and point to the complex family dynamics arising when the father is literally out of the picture. Notably, within the diversity of experiences and situations these families face, the resulting story is not about what is missing — it is a story of strength and empowerment. Alternately using oil or acrylic paint on linen, Mackasey employs body language, facial expression and composition with great empathy. Through this project, which includes taped conversations with the artist, the participants have opened up their lives: their struggles, triumphs and aspirations. The artist does not portray her subjects as victims or as heroes. Her paintings encourage viewers to see past stereotypes and statistics to imagine the richness of individual lives and the power of familial love.

Michèle Mackasey studied drawing and painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design, and has participated in exhibitions in Saskatchewan and Ontario. Originally from northern Quebec, Mackasey grew up in Ontario. She now lives in Saskatoon with her two children of Dene heritage, and holds deep ties to Patuanak, a Dene community in Northern Saskatchewan, while maintaining her francophone identity.

This exhibition is still available for bookings. Approximately 130 running feet is required. For more information contact: Sandra Fraser, Associate Curator, Extension Coordinator, (306) 975-8057, sfraser@mendel.ca