VANCOUVER — A Vancouver artist has unveiled the first in a series of portraits chronicling the city’s missing women, a “violent” depiction complete with bloody slashes along the female subject’s face.
Pamela Masik introduced “Mona” Tuesday at a small gathering in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood. The unveiling took place just blocks from the city’s infamous Downtown Eastside where many of the 69 women vanished.
The eight-by-ten foot portrait depicts Mona Wilson, a First Nations sex worker who disappeared in 2001. Serial killer Robert Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder in her death, along with five others, in 2007.
Masik said her work aims to remember each of the women who disappeared from the Downtown Eastside, women who were forgotten long before they ever vanished.
“The intent of this work … is to raise awareness of society’s perception that prostitutes and drug users have no value and can be discarded,” she said.
Masik described the work, styled after Wilson’s mugshot, as violent and said the bloody slashes indicate something unjust has taken place.
Wilson’s portrait features a number of newspaper headlines splashed across it from actual stories chronicling the neighbourhood’s missing women.
A release date for the remainder of the series has not yet been announced but Susie Kinshella, whose sister Wendy Crawford is among 20 women Pickton stands accused of killing, said she’s seen the entire, breathtaking series.
Kinshella said the depiction of Wilson is amazing in its authenticity.
“It’s so, so much like her. It’s very real. It’s just amazing to see them … at that size,” she said.
Kinshella said the portrait of her own sister, which has not yet been unveiled for the public, can only be described as beautiful.
“When I turned around and looked at my sister’s portrait, it just put on so much healing from the Pickton trial,” she said.
Tuesday’s unveiling comes in the same week the B.C. Court of Appeal releases its decision on Pickton.