The Power Plant

Two Women Jewish Artists You May Have Missed at The Power Plant

NOV 26 2022
by Sarah Raizel Avalis

Installation view of Miriam Cahn, ME AS HAPPENING. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid

Since 1987, The Power Plant has acted as a vital forum for contemporary art and culture, exhibiting diverse artists—many from marginalized communities—whose works reflect on ideals, struggles, and inspirations drawn from within.

In recent memory, two women Jewish artists have presented full-gallery exhibitions at The Power Plant. In case you missed them, here’s a recap (and where you can catch these shows virtually):

October 2, 2021–January 2, 2022
Curator: Gaëtane Verna
Assistant Curator: Jacqueline Kok, Nancy McCain and Bill Morneau Curatorial Fellow, 2021–23

Swiss Jewish artist Miriam Cahn produces work inspired by the world around her, with womanhood, sexuality, and anti-Semitism being reoccurring themes in her expansive portfolio. Having taken over The Power Plant during the Fall 2021 season, ME AS HAPPENING featured oil paintings; chalk, pastel, and charcoal drawings; and film and photography.

Vulnerable, contemporary women refugees have been a recent focus in Cahn’s work. Drawing on her family’s Jewish European heritage, she empathizes with displaced persons from Western Asia and Africa as they attempt to settle in new homelands that are often hostile and unwelcoming to outsiders. These works cement Cahn’s status as a Jewish, feminist activist-artist.

If you missed ME AS HAPPENING last fall, you can still check out a virtual tour of the exhibition here or pick up a copy of the exhibition’s publication from The Power Plant Shop online or in person during your next visit.

Vivian Suter with Elisabeth Wild: La Canícula
October 20, 2018–December 30, 2018
Curator: Nabila Abdel Nabi

During The Power Plant’s Fall 2018 season, Swiss Jewish artist Vivian Suter exhibited alongside her mother Elisabeth Wild, a distinguished collage artist in her own right. Suter’s work is deeply influenced by and, since the early aughts, includes elements of nature. In 2005, when Hurricane Stan hit her Guatemalan home and covered over twenty years of work in mud, debris, and rainwater, Suter thought she’d lost a large portion of her career’s efforts. After initially trying to rescue and restore the paintings, a new way to enjoy them came to light.

Vivian Suter with Elisabeth Wild: La Canícula

Vivian Suter with Elisabeth Wild: La Canícula. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2018. Photo: Henry Chan

Suter began to acknowledge nature as a collaborator rather than a perpetrator. Since then, she has started her artistic process by leaving a blank canvas outside, allowing external and environmental factors such as rainwater, insects, and the paw prints of her two dogs to leave their marks. After several days of exposure, the weathered canvases are ready for Suter. The results are stunning, sun-bleached canvases of abstract biomorphic shapes that Suter chooses to display in non-conventional ways. At The Power Plant, her works hung from the ceiling, unframed and without stretcher bars. The presentation was an extension of the natural environment from which these paintings originated: both raw and wild.

Relive this unique exhibition through The Power Plant archives or grab the artist’s monograph, co-published with Hatje Cantz, from The Power Plant Shop.