New feminist artist collective, Modern Seven, formed on Manitoulin Island

A series of portraits of the artists at work. photos by Cassidy McAuliffe

MANITOULIN – There is a new feminist artist collective, Modern Seven, that is making waves in the art world that has deep roots in the Manitoulin region.

“We are very excited about it,” said Modern Seven spokesperson Danielle Daniel. “It is a feminist artists’ collective where we support each other.”

Like its famous predecessor, Canada’s Group of Seven, the artists of the collective are focussed on the rugged beauty of Canada’s North, in this case Northern Ontario. “This is where each of us is inspired by our surroundings,” said Ms. Daniel. 

But unlike the Group of Seven, the Modern Seven’s membership is actually limited (at least for now) to seven members, and not all of the collective are painters.

“We come from different disciplines,” said Ms. Daniel, who is herself both a painter and an award winning author and illustrator. “We have a filmmaker, fiber artist and painters in the group.”

Whatever discipline an artist works in, the process can be very isolating as the work is usually a very solitary process. “You can be so isolated as a writer or a painter, any kind of artist really, the work can be lonesome,” she said. “So we can come together to support each other as a group. We all plan to spend time together outside as a group.” Some of the work will be plein aire, while others will be taking their inspirations back into the studio to produce their works.

A series of portraits of the artists at work. photos by Cassidy McAuliffe

“Everyone will have their own process,” said Ms. Daniel, “but the goal is to do it together.”

Unfortunately, the group is a closed shop, but that should not discourage anyone. “I think we are closed,” she said, “but we encourage others to start their own collection.”

The group’s wide range of ancillary skillsets has come in very handy for its members. “I can help people write their bios, Cassidy could help them photograph their work better, then there is the graphic design work, the list goes on,” she said. “We all have skills that can help us be more productive.”

Ms. Daniel paints and writes stories and her work is inspired by her Indigenous roots, as well as the Northern Ontario landscape, where she was born and raised. She works primarily with acrylics and acrylic inks, however, she is eager to add oil paints to her toolbox. She divides her time between her Sudbury home and Manitoulin Island.

Julieanne Steedman is a Northern Ontario visual artist and inspiration for her paintings and hand drawn maps comes from her years spent living abroad, as well as time spent outdoors in rural Northern Ontario.

Sharon Preen’s journey as a plein aire artist began as an extension of journaling outdoor adventures. Over time she has moved from paper to canvas and boards and those images have become her journal, where each painting “becomes an invaluable source of learning, inspiration and release.”

Chantal Abdel-Nour was born and raised in Sudbury. An alumna of Cambrian College she “has been teaching (and forever learning from her students) in the graphic design program since 2014. To keep current in the field, she actively practices design through freelance work and continues to experiment with pet projects that incorporate her love of illustration and typography. She’s an aspiring printmaker, with her primary focus on lino printing and monoprinting, as well as illustrating organic findings found along her hikes in Sudbury with India ink.”

Beth Lindner calls McGregor Bay home, where summers spent growing up has become an intimate part of who she is; an artist, mother, wife and adventurer. Living in McGregor Bay has greatly shaped Ms. Lindner’s work as an artist—learning how to share herself, her interpretations of where she fits into this intoxicating world, to discover and be inspired by it.

Her work is filled with passion and love, depicted in the deep colours and bold brush strokes. The “little piece of heaven” where her studio is nestled is on a 108-acre island where she lives with her adventuresome husband and courageous sons.

Cassidy McAuliffe is a Sudbury photographer and filmmaker whose work “focuses on her interdependence and connection with the lakes and the land of Northern Ontario.” Outside of her visual art she works at an environmental not-for-profit organization as a communications specialist and runs Woodland Sisters, a small art business with her sister. 

Adrienne Assinewai is a Northern Ontario visual artist born and raised on Manitoulin Island. Being surrounded by so much nature and culture, she was inspired from a young age to express and share this beauty with others. Ms. Assinewai’s award-winning work is executed in a variety of media and subject matter from needle felted sculptures to watercolour portraits. Always one to have several things on the go, her work ranges from small and whimsical to more detailed in depth pieces.

Together these women make up the feminist collective known as the Modern Seven. Their website can be found at www.themodernseven.com.