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December 11, 2014: Westboro Resident Is Both an Artist and a Teacher; George Bernard Shaw may have been wrong.

December 11, 2014: Westboro Resident Is Both an Artist and a Teacher;
George Bernard Shaw may have been wrong.

By Tim Thibeault.

George Bernard Shaw, in his 1903 play Man and Superman, famously said, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” He has been quoted and paraphrased for the 111 years since, so much so, that many people take his satire to be Truth.

Westboro’s Maya Hum is a graphic artist. She also a teacher with the city of Ottawa; and speaking wordlessly with her pencil, she has put the lie to George Bernard Shaw by both ‘doing’ and ‘teaching’ admirably, all across the city from the Shenkman Centre in the east, to the Nepean Visual Arts Centre, where she currently teaches drawing, in the west.

Maya Hum’s current exhibition at the Fritzi Gallery in Hintonburg (corner of Holland and Wellington) totals 29 works and illustrates the breadth of her talent as a ‘doer’.

Paired with fellow visual artist Clare Brebner, by the Fritzi Gallery’s resident curator Malika Welsh, Maya Hum is exhibiting recent illustrations in graphite and mixed media in a show that will run until January 18, 2015.

Between illustrating and teaching, Maya Hum keeps to a very busy professional schedule. Through telphone, one personal meeting and several emails, I managed to ask her a few questions and parsed her responses into one, brief interview.

Asked about the material she uses, Hum had this to say, “The majority of works are mixed-media (graphite, pastel, acrylic medium, charcoal, and India ink.) My process involves alternating layers of line drawing with layers of varied tones. The tones are created by brushing in graphite and/or pastel powders mixed with acrylic medium. The end result is a mixture of drawing and painting.”

Asked if she has a personal favourite, Maya Hum hesitated a moment and then acknowledged the role of emotion in her assessment of her own work. Said she, “It is really hard to pick a personal favourite. I guess it depends on my current mood. At the moment I am feeling positive, so the piece titled “Collect what brings you light” comes to mind.”

What advice would she have for those interested in the arts?
“Art saves lives. Support the arts. Art really makes the best gift.” said Hum.

And she continued, “Don’t worry too much about what people think of your art. Do it because you have fun making it, as this will show through (even if you don’t see it). Yes, there will be some big ups and downs, but ultimately if you have the art bug, please don’t let it go! I’m not saying it is the absolute thing you need to stick to from now on, but keep it in your life. Art really enriches. So keep it alive. I worry at times that art is not supported enough in education, but it is so important to have. There are so many benefits, from cognitive growth to learning how to think creatively with an open mind.”

Both Maya Hum and Clare Brebner have proven with this exhibition, that George Bernard Shaw might have done well to think twice before speaking. Some, after all, can do, and do teach.

Photo Caption: Westboro artist Maya Hum (right) with fellow exhibitor Clare Brebner, attends the vernissage of their duo exhibit, “Illustrated” at the Fritzi Gallery in Hintonburg. Photo by Brandon Gray.

black and white artwork of a woman looking at a sky scene of a Big-Dipper constellation collecting stars in its cup
Photo Caption: “Collect What Brings You Light.” (detail) Mixed media illustration from the show “Illustrated” at Fritzi Gallery. Image courtesy of Maya Hum.


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