Claire Weissman Wilks
Claire Weissman Wilks is a Toronto sculptor, painter and lithographer best known for her depictions of women and sexuality. Her drawings are startling and controversial and, when first created, were rarely accepted into shows in "conservative Toronto galleries."
She has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Canada, The US and Europe and published several books including: Two of Us Together: Each of Us Alone (1982), a compilation of erotic drawings exploring the nature of human sexuality and love; I Know Not Why the Roses Bloom (1986), a collection of lithographs and sculpture inspired by the diaries of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who died in the 1940s at Auschwitz; and Hillmother (1983), a series of drawings on birth and the relationship between mother and children.
While her Lithuanian heritage was not an emphasis in her upbringing, Wilks feels that the connection to eastern Europe has constantly affected her work, particularly a preoccupation with the Second World War. In her sculptures and drawings of women and sexuality, such as the series Totem Women (1993) and Tremors (1989), there is an underlying empathy with the life of women in concentration camps, and a need to reinvest that life with the sexuality and sensuality that is denied in most Holocaust imagery. Even in her images of mothers and children, she is in part attempting to give life back to the great number of children whose lives were lost during the war.