Woman of the Deep Woods © Maggie Vanderweit

Woman of the Deep Woods: Emily Carr

Maggie Vanderweit

Fergus, Ontario, Canada

Artist Statement

Emily Carr is my very favourite painter. I am moved to tears by her understanding of a beautiful, sentient universe – alive, dancing, swirling and breathing. Like her, I feel a profound reverence for First Nations’ art and culture. My children are Cree and Dutch-Canadian and I have lived in the north. I deeply admire her boldness, courage, talent and uncompromising style. Her trees and totem poles are particularly breathtaking.

As a child, I often went to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and was awed by the enormous totem pole that the central staircase wrapped around. When my husband and I traveled to the west coast a few years ago we were able to visit Sitka National Historic Park on a misty spring day. It is filled with Tlingit and Haida totem poles – some original, some recreated, all of them spectacular. I took many photos.

“Woman of the Deep Woods” is based on a detail shot of a feminine guardian of the deep woods, carved high into a totem pole. I made her eyes stand out to honour Emily Carr’s ability to see the world and create art in visionary new ways. I wanted the forest to move and dance.

On white cotton, I painted the figure using watercolours and the trees using Colour Vie Textile Medium. I machine quilted the outlines with black and invisible threads.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

Emily Carr was a Canadian author and artist, honored as the ”Mother of Modern Arts”. Her haunting, iconic paintings are richly spiritual, powerful and symbolic.


Whole cloth, hand painted.


Cotton, watercolours paints, textile paint.

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