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  • Winsom, Winsom

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Winsom (1946 - ) is a prominent Canadian-Jamaican Maroon multi-media artist, activist, arts educator and mentor to young people. She was born in Jamaica and studied at the Jamaica School of Art (1965-1968) in Kingston (now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), where she majored in mural painting. She moved to Canada in 1969 and was based predominantly in Hamilton, Kingston, and Toronto. From 2004 to 2022 Winsom was based in both Canada and Belize, and since 2022 has been based in the GTA.

Winsom’s work is known for spiritual symbolism, particularly reflecting Yoruba and Arawak traditions, and for the use of multiple media including painting, textiles, sculpture and video. Her practice, especially her work with textiles, is influenced by her travels and studies across Ghana and West Africa, where she worked with master dryers and Adrinka printers. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally, including the United States and the Caribbean. In 1989 she participated in Black Wimmin: When and Where We Enter, the first Canadian exhibition to feature only the work of Black women artists and to be curated solely by Black women curators. Some of her solo exhibitions include Jumping the Big Boa at the Image Factory Gallery in Belize, The Masks We Wear at the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery at Queen’s University in Kingston, and Winsom: I Rise at the AGO. She has also been involved with several theatre and dance productions as a designer and artist, predominantly with the Nightwood Theatre in Toronto.

In addition to her work as an artist, Winsom has made significant contributions to the arts community as a dedicated and longtime teacher, mentor, and activist. She has taught in schools, workshops, festivals, and other settings to students of all ages. In 1992, Winsom was a founding member and instructor with the Fresh Arts collective, which established programs for Black youth in Toronto to receive mentorship in the arts, including dance, music, and visual arts. She was also a founding member of the Draw It Black Artist’s Collective (DIBAC), a not-for-profit group launched in 2000 that was dedicated to promoting the work of African Canadian artists. Winsom is the Founder and Director of the Winsom Foundation, a Belize-based non-profit organization established in 2007. Through this foundation she supports arts education for young people in the Cristo Rey Village area, through programs such as an after-school arts club. Winsom has worked with many education and community-oriented organizations as an educator and artist, including the YMCA and the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO. She has frequently shared her knowledge and expertise through presentations, panel talks, and other speaking engagements.

Winsom has been recognized with several awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD) in 2015, the Marilyn Lastman Award from the City of Toronto Arts Foundation in 2002, and a Canada Council Visual Arts “A” Grant in 2003. Her long career as an artist and activist has had tremendous impact on subsequent generations of artists.


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Created 22 March 2024.




“About Me.” Winsom.

Chaudhry, Rida. “Winsom Winsom Talks Mentorship and Art.” The Queen’s Journal. February 17, 2023.

“OCAD University Honours Esteemed Arts Mentors at Convocation Ceremonies.” OCAD University. June 4, 2015.

“The Archive as a Forum for Recognition, Resilience and Radical Love: Pamila Matharu & Winsom Winsom.” 2023. Akimbo. October 24, 2023.

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