Advocacy in Art

Cheryl Harawitz uses her canvas to advance her causes.



Courtesy of Cheryl Harawitz

Cheryl Harawitz has lived in beautiful places—Ontario, where she was born; England, where she grew up, which explains her slight accent; and in Nova Scotia for 30 years with her husband, photographer Howard Harawitz.

For the last seven years, Alameda has been her home, and it’s one that stands out to her as an artist, because of its lively artists’ community. “Here, ideas spark off the page when you’re immersed with so many different talents,” she said.

Harawitz is a self-taught artist who honed her talents from books, studying other artists, and attending artist retreats in Nova Scotia. Iconic Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr is one of her major inspirations.

Harawitz began displaying her work much more, thanks to encouragement from other Alameda artists. “When Jessica and Wesley Warren moved here with Studio 23, they just energized us a whole lot and encouraged people to show their work,” Harawitz said.

Courtesy of Cheryl Harawitz

Mindfulness also energized her work. Last year Harawitz, a Buddhist, created her own meditation retreat and meditated for five hours every day in January in her studio. “I was just feeling the need to touch base with myself over a long period of time.”

The meditation inspired her to create large paintings of one of Earth’s most majestic creatures—elephants. Harawitz is fascinated with elephants’ culture and wisdom, saying, “They’re just gentle giants.”

Harawitz translated this onto the canvas in dreamy shades of blue acrylic paint. There’s so much texture to her work. You can almost feel the elephants’ floppy ears, heavy skin, and the terrain they’re traveling upon. At the same time, she evokes the magic of nature and these creatures. Harawitz donated proceeds from her sales to a charity working to save this endangered species. She wants to use her art to help more causes.

Years ago, while living in Nova Scotia, she was a social worker and advocate for children with severe disabilities. Harawitz helped parents keep their children out of institutions deemed unfit for such kids. Her advocacy work was featured in a documentary.

She’s taking her love for children to another creative genre—books. Harawitz considers herself a “maker” because she also draws, writes, and works with textiles. Currently she’s working on a fantasy children’s book but hasn’t decided yet if she wants it to be a novel or picture book. Lucky for her, if she does a picture book, she definitely has the visuals already covered. 

 

Published online on April 20, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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