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Sophie Levesque couldn’t believe it when she found out one of her paintings would be travelling in an exhibit around the country.
“I threw my computer onto the bed and I ran downstairs screaming, ‘I made it mom!’”
Levesque is a St. Thomas social work student and her painting, La Récolte (The Harvest), went from being known to her to being known across Canada.
After taking a year off from school to learn English, Levesque came to St. Thomas. She felt caught between a rock and a hard place.
“There were always two sides that I was interested in. I love arts, it’s my passion, but I also like working with people and issues that pertained to social work. I came here, took psychology because I thought I wanted to have more of an individualist prospective, but that changed as for many students that go to university.”
She’s been involved in the arts most of her life. Sophie’s had various art instructors looking out for her.
“One of my former painting instructors called me one day and said I should enter The Defining Moments art contest and create something so it could put me on the map.”
The Defining Moments: Discovering our Canadian Stories is a national digital media arts and citizenship project aimed at engaging youth across Canada to explore, express and showcase their diverse perspectives on Canadian identity.
In this particular art contest there were three categories: the land, the people, and the history. Each had to relate to the painter. When Levesque read these categories, she decided she didn’t want to do just one. She did three.
“I basically took all three and I put them together with the inspiration by a movement from French literature which is called ‘le terroir’.”
In French history, le terroir emphasizes the first habitant connections to the land. It means “of the earth”.
“My ancestors lived hard and they worked hard, and it was all based around the community because if they didn’t have each other, they couldn’t survive,” Levesque said.
“So the painting is inspired by this movement where you were influenced by the land, your language and by the church.”
Many participants entered the contest but there could only be a few winners.
“For me, I went back in history and I looked into the roots of where I came from and decided to put it in this painting.”
Not used to painting in a historical perspective, Levesque had never gone into such detail before. After painting La Récolte, she’d like to produce other works with the same mindset.
“I might want to look at different industries such as the lumber industry here in New Brunswick and how that changed the rivers here.”
Levesque has been on her toes after winning the contest.
“I did not expect to win because over 2000 pieces of art were entered in this contest. I knew that the painting was strong but I didn’t think I would win.”
Now that Levesque’s has won top spot, the painting has been copied and will be shown all around Canada. This has prompted a packed schedule for Sophie. She’s given interviews and has been in contact with the press.
“It never stops,” Levesque said.
She’s been teaching art at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery for two years. Classes run from September to October. Levesque’s classes are free for STU students. While the classes keep her busy, she hopes to branch into private lessons.
Since her big win, Levesques painting has been sold and is now being rented to a museum in Florenceville.