Calgary artist Teresa Posyniak brings to her art a versatile professional training that includes different disciplines and a wide range of materials. She has degrees in literature and drama: a BFA (University of Regina painting and printmaking, 1981) and an MFA (University of Calgary, sculpture, 1983). Over the course of her 40+ year career, she has worked in materials as diverse as steel, wood, concrete, handmade paper and felt, oil and other painting and drawing media and fabric. The scale of her work ranges from room size installations to small drawings and paintings. Since 1999, Posyniak has cultivated the use of hot wax (encaustic) and more recently, cold wax, into her two and three-dimensional work, as a way of incorporating textures, drips, splatters and layers of tinted, glowing colours.
Posyniak has always been a socially engaged artist and her activism, primarily on behalf of women, children and the environment, informs her practice. Notable among her works is Lest We Forget (1992), a large-scale sculpture dedicated to missing and murdered women in Canada, which was permanently installed in The Law School at the University of Calgary in 1994, and is one of Canada’s first memorials of its kind. Every year, Teresa is invited to speak to an assembly of first year law students about the creation of this memorial.
Posyniak’s constant themes of vulnerability and resiliency are reflected in her paintings and drawings of the female figure which are emotional, raw and layered in meaning. This interest in women’s lives has led to an ongoing series depicting women Blackfoot elders called Consensus, a uniquely collaborative project with Siksika elder Linda Many Guns and Blood elder Beverly Hungry Wolf.
Over the past ten years, Teresa’s focus has broadened to include the environment and how human activity is changing our climate. Her research into plankton and trees, our main sources of the earth’s oxygen, was reflected in her solo show Drifters and Blooms in 2017 at the Christine Klassen Gallery.
Currently, Teresa is working on two projects. For over three years, she and BC poet Nancy Holmes have been collaborating on series related to the Ponderosa pine tree. After two residencies in Kelowna and many hikes and conversations with Nancy, Posyniak has completed a series of paintings and drawings which not only address the physical beauty of this tree but also its relationship to the increasing number of fires which plague British Columbia and western Canada as a whole. The second project has its beginnings in 1983 with her Sanctuary installations. Using elements from those large works, Posyniak continues to adapt them in new ways. The series of 8’ tall wrapped linear pieces and cast, covered columns are part of her exploration into visual ideas about the environment, our survival possibilities and our relationship with nature.
A former art instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design and the University of Calgary, Posyniak has exhibited widely in private and public galleries, including her 2010 solo show at the Glenbow Museum, I Speak My Daughter Tongue. A recipient of many awards and grants from the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments as well as The Canada Council, Teresa is represented in many private and public collections including the Glenbow Museum, The City of Calgary Civic Art Collection and The Alberta Foundation for the Arts.