The Ottawa Citizen – “We are Agents of Change”

Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Ottawa Citizen
their spirit
Valberg Imaging
Photographer Michelle Valberg
Michelle Valberg
Jen Mielke, who often described her breasts as a lumpy, old college sofa, was shocked in June when her doctor told her that a
mammogram and ultrasound showed cancer. Through her blog, the 39-year-old has kept her friends and
family up to date on her treatment. A beautiful rockstar, indeed.
Valberg: ‘We are agents of change’
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“We are featuring four women who had or
have breast cancer and Molly, an 11-year-old
girl with brain cancer,” Valberg says.
She found the experience rewarding and
heartbreaking as the women opened up
about their ordeal: what it was like to lose
their hair, gain weight and live with anxiety. The six were asked to select a word
or phrase that best described them: Molly
Robillard (Friends), Linda Morin (Look Beyond), Sanny Faustini (Life is Beautiful),
Lindsay MacPhee (Resilience), Jen Mielke
(Rockstar) and Cox (Courage).
Barrett applied makeup to many of the
women involved in the project and says it
was a humbling experience.
“Each of them has tremendous spirit, a
sense of humour and are the centre of their
families. I wanted them to see themselves
through our eyes. They are beautiful, strong
and their spirit shines brightly,” says Barrett,
who is known as the Beauty Bartender.
Barr has been in the framing and gallery business for more than 25 years with
her husband Tom Barr and brother-in-law
Edward Barr. She conceived the idea for
the exhibit, entitled Inspiring Change, in
December and selected five artists whom she
represents based on how each of them inspire change in their communities. The artists include, Alex Chowaniec, Joy Kardish,
Marjolyn van der Hart, Sharon VanStarkenburg and Valberg.
“When I approached them, they were
keen to get involved and opened up about
why this was important. Each of the artists have a personal story. This seems like
the year for change. I feel energized and believe that each of us has a greater purpose.
We are agents of change,” says Barr, a mother of three.
“I want my children to understand that
we have the ability to do more in terms of
giving back in life. The works by the artists
in this exhibit speak for themselves. They
Michelle Valberg
Linda Morin, who underwent a
double mastectomy while battling
cancer, has opened Look Beyond
Boutique, which offers a juice bar,
mastectomy clothing line and
wellness programs in Kanata. She is
the author of a memoir entitled The
Courage to Look Beyond.
Michelle Valberg
Lindsay MacPhee was just 27 when she was
diagnosed with breast cancer. She returned
home to Cape Breton to live with her parents
while receiving treatment in 2005. Married to her
sweetheart since 2011, MacPhee chose the word
resilience to honour her parents, who overcame
many challenges, including her father’s cancer.
‘I wouldn’t trade this experience. Cancer taught
me to appreciate life. The little things just don’t
Chris Mikula/Ottawa Citizen
Michelle Valberg
Sanny Faustini, 46, is married to Domenico Giancola, and is mom to Noah, 15, and
daughter Karlee, 10. She was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma breast cancer in June,
had a left mastectomy in September and has completed chemotherapy. Faustini, who
is on leave from her job with Costco Wholesale Canada, begins radiation therapy next
week. In October, she raised almost $12,000 for Run for the Cure. She participated in a
5K walk and began her treatment the next day.
Patricia Barr, a co-owner of Wall
Space Gallery, is hosting an
exhibition celebrating International
Women’s Day at her Westboro
studio, which runs till March 30.
Joy Kardish
Revisiting the past
Photographs of beloved grandmother
evoke bittersweet memories
Tony Lofaro
or Joy Kardish, the first person to come
to mind when thinking about the word
inspiration, is her grandmother Rose,
who came to Canada during the 1920s with
her husband and three young children. Rose
was 28 when the family settled in the ByWard Market with her husband’s family, before moving to Sandy Hill and Wurtemburg
“She was my ‘Bubby.’ I was very close to
her and visited her every day. She didn’t
speak English, only Yiddish so I learned Yiddish in order to talk to her. My grandmother
had three children, but my uncle, my mother’s brother, died when he was about 19.
He drowned and that was a big blow to the
family, so my grandmother managed to keep
it together after all.” She died in 1969.
Kardish, 63, an Ottawa photographer, is
taking part in Inspiring Change: An Exhibit in Celebration of International Women’s
Day at Wall Space Gallery, which runs March
8 to March 30. She chose to highlight the life
and times of her grandmother through six
arresting photographs that capture those
early years in Canada.
Kardish studied communications at the
University of Ottawa, and photographic arts
in Toronto, and Woodstock, New York.
“I envisioned the world as a square, like
a lens and that’s how I saw things. My husband says that when we travel, I take pictures of scenes that he can’t figure out what
I’m doing.
“I always had a camera with me, but I don’t
like digital cameras. I like working with film,
and the whole concept of developing.
“I still get fascinated when I stick a piece
of paper in the developer and then an image
comes out, I’m overwhelmed by that. But
I’m becoming a bit of a dinosaur.”
She started to get serious again about photography 10 years ago after raising her three
Kardish has showcased her photos at galleries around town. She for many years was
associated with the Dale Smith Gallery, formerly on Beechwood Avenue. She is now
with Wall Space Gallery. Some of her pieces
are in galleries in North Carolina and Arizona.
She works in oils and watercolours as well
and often uses her photographs for inspiration.
“I don’t have actual photographs of her
in the apartment because the building was
Chris Mikula/Ottawa Citizen
Joy Kardish stands in front of her photograph of her grandmother Rose, which is on display at
Westboro’s Wall Space Gallery.
sold. I was able to bring back memories by
creating vignettes that reminded me of images I saw in the apartment. I have her white
gloves and a hat that she would wear on special occasions.
“The vignettes were more of the images
that I kept in my mind of what the apartment looked like. It was a small apartment
with a bay window and a kitchen where my
grandmother always served dinner on Friday nights.
“Rose was the backbone of our family.
Meals were a celebration; every Friday night
we went for dinner. She was smart, funny
and caring, her family came first. She had a
head for business that was passed on to my
mother and aunt who opened the Regency
Dress Salon, which was very successful.”
In describing the images Kardish says:
“Nostalgia, for me represents a backward,
bittersweet look at gentler, quieter times —
knowing only too well those times possessed
their own challenges.
“It is my hope that viewers of this body of
work will find its meaning for them ... evoking their own personal nostalgic memories,
and bringing a certain stillness and calmness to the viewer.”