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Paula Mitas Zoubek

 

  • born in 1940 in Batawa, Ontario
  • parents emigrated from Austria and Czech Republic in 1939
  • B.F.A. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario (1962); studied from 1961 to 1964 at Académie Julien, Paris, Goldsmith College, London, and the University of Mexico

expanded images click on thumbnails at left to view larger images

Textile artist Paula Mitas Zoubek has painted on fabric, exhibiting wall hangings in batik in the 1970s and early 1980s, at the same time selling hand-painted silk clothing across Canada as part of a popular movement called "wearable art." In the 1990s she began to use textiles to explore the lives of women, particularly women of eastern Europe, in her artwork. Of her 1991 quilted work, Pillow, she has written: "Women have been the pillows to lie on, cry on--the comforters in life. The big feather beds and large pillows are an integral feature of central Europe. The pillow is also an instrument of sexual oppression and sexual dominance" (1999). In the quilted series The Immigrant Goddess Tryptich (1993), she tells the story of the Czech women who settled the village of Batawa in Ontario in the 1940s (also the town where Zoubek was born), using it to tell, in effect, the story of all immigrant women." Through the use of symbols, Zoubek literally puts a face to these women's lives and struggles, whether it be the 'river' of inner strength they showed in adjusting to life in their new homeland, the paradoxical views of womanhood--they were both oppressed and considered to be a valued possession at the same time--they experienced on the road to a new life outside the community that beckoned the younger women" (Diane Pinder-Moss, 1993). This series uses the traditional form of female expression in the Czech Republic, textile work, to celebrate female immigrant life and to explore its hardships. "Women are the backbone of small communities everywhere," she writes of the first tryptich part, call The Ovas. The houses are Batawa houses, the hills, Batawa hills. The women are called the Ovas because that is the ending of Czech women's names. Ova is . . . also the ending of genitive or possessive case meaning you belong to, or are a possession of . . . the women framed, bound by a rigid tradition . . ." (1999). During the 1990s Zoubek also returned to painting. As she tends to focus on still life she finds textiles and fabrics always make their way into her work, whether they are the central subject or simply part of the background. "Sometimes the textile is the main subject, other times it forms part of the background for the flowers from my garden or the crockery from my kitchen. Textiles and flowers bring us so much color and comfort. Presently I am celebrating their presence in our lives," she has written (1998). Zoubek has been an instructor of art, art history, and batik painting in various schools of the Ontario School Board, and has worked as an assistant curator at the Royal Ontario Museum (1964-68), and as curator at the Santé Gallery/Restaurant in Ottawa, Ontario (1998). She has created murals for Carleton University (1998) and for the National Capital Commission (1995) in Ottawa, Ontario, and served on the Ontario Crafts Council from 1994 to 1997.

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1997-95 Immigrant Women
Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, Almonte, Ontario

 

1995 Agnes Etherington Gallery Shop Show
Agnes Etherington Gallery, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

 

1994-92 Immigrant Goddess
First Unitarian Church of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario; Guelph, Ontario; Belleville Municipal Art Gallery, Belleville, Ontario; Homer-Watson House, Kitchener, Ontario; Prague, Czech Republic

 

1989 One-Woman Show Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Bata Shoe Company
Batawa, Ontario

 

1981 Upper Edge Gallery, Kingston, Ontario

 

1980 Hiberna Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

 

1979-77 Wearable Art
Centre des arts visuels, Montréal, Québec; Gallery of Fine Canadian Craft, Kingston, Ontario

 

1973 Ting Sung Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1998 On the Rocks: Brenda Davies and Jean Jewer [curated by Zoubek]
Santé, Ottawa, Ontario

 

1991 Annual Elmwood Art Fair
Ottawa, Ontario

 

1990-89 Exhibition of Czechoslovakian Artists
Montréal, Québec; Toronto, Ontario

Antique Display/Fashion Show
Hastings West District Women's Institute, Sidney Township, Ontario

 

1988 Festival of the Arts: Arts on Sparks
Scotiabank, Ottawa, Ontario

 

1987-86 Annual Elmwood Art Fair
Ottawa, Ontario

Canadian Shop Gallery, Kingston, Ontario

 

1980 The Wedding Show
Hiberna Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

 

1979 Surfacing '79
Ontario Craft Council, Toronto, Ontario

 

1976 Two-Woman Show
Ontario Craft Council, Toronto, Ontario

 



COLLECTIONS

Bata Shoe Company Collection, Toronto, Ontario
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
Kulili Estataes, Kar Kar Island, Papua New Guinea
J.D. Hall, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Hoover House, York University, Toronto, Ontario
Municipal Offices, Frankford, Ontario

 



BIBLIOGRAPHY

"The Immigrant Goddess. Homer Watson House & Gallery. Kitchener. Review." Ontario Craft 18, no. 4 (Winter 1993): 20-21.

 

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