Exhibit highlighting Okanagan women launches in Kelowna

The Empowered Project celebrates leaders and change-makers

An exhibit showcasing women from all around the Okanagan has launched.

The Empowered Project celebrates women, their achievements, and the progression of democracy in the context of women’s rights.

That’s according to artist Ana Eries Luyben, who painted the portraits in the exhibit and unveiled them all on Friday (Mar. 6). She said the project took nine months, from finding the women to reaching out to them and finally painting their portraits.

“I wanted to find women who were leading lives that were bold and that were in a leadership position, and leadership in terms of their own lives, not necessarily just in a socio-economic level but even just trauma survivors,” she said.

“Their stories mean a lot to me, and I wanted to shine a light on them.”

Michele Johnson, a Syilx language teacher, is one of the women Luyben painted and featured. Johnson is helping to revitalize Syilx and has been teaching the language in Penticton and area for eleven years. Four months ago, she brought the beginner’s language program to the Westbank First Nation for the first time.

Johnson said it was an honour for her work to be recognized.

“It feels really validating… it’s such a surprise. I can’t even really speak to how it feels because it’s such a surprise to walk in and see my portrait,” she said.

Johnson said the four-month course will end soon, but her students have asked to move on to the next level soon.

“It feels good for me and my people to be acknowledged, along with the work we do with promoting kindness, love and inclusivity.”

The community has the chance to participate in the project throughout the spring, by drawing a self-portrait or a portrait of someone who inspires and empowers them. The drawings will then be collected at the end of the season and put into a collage canvas. Luyben said the plan is to have the finished collage out by the end of the summer.

The project’s proceeds will also go towards supporting the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society’s trauma counselling services.

Luyben said she chose to support Elizabeth Fry because she felt that her project and the society ultimately share the same goal: empowering women.

“I thought that supporting Elizabeth Fry was just a harmonious way to bring the art community and social change together. I wanted to support them and they wanted to support me, and that I think already speaks to empowerment in such a big way.”

READ MORE: Syilx language program comes to West Kelowna

READ MORE: Salmon Arm celebrates International Women’s Day


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

First Nations womenwomen entrepreneurswomen in businesswomen in politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Update: Wildfire on Adams Lake band land near Chase classified as out of control

BC Wildfire Service reports Shuswap two-hectare fire is not threatening structures

Armed robbery of legal grow-op in Sicamous ends in arrest near Enderby

Residents alarmed over increased police presence Tuesday morning

VIDEO: Salmon Arm family in isolation rises to musical challenge

The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine used to share efforts to avoid spread of COVID-19

North Okanagan bands together in support against COVID-19

New group launches website with tools to help endure crisis

Shuswap residents, distiller respond to safety, sanitization needs at seniors care facilities

Sicamous’ After Dark Distillery shifts to making sanitizer to support community

WATCH: Salmon Arm artist hosts virtual art show amid COVID-19

Roxi Hermsen’s show “Into the Cosmos” is a tribute to her father Bill Sim

HERGOTT: COVID-19 and ICBC

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

COVID-19: Armstrong gym fined $345 after failure to close

The fitness centre was issued a ticket a day after province ordered all gyms to close

Bus rider who travelled to Golden tests positive for COVID-19

The passenger travelled from Calgary to Golden on March 15

COVID-19: Vernon homeless shelters combine in curling club

Gateway and Our Place shelter sites housed under one roof amid pandemic

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

‘Overwhelming, incredible’ support for foreign workers following West Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak

‘…Our team seems to be recovering well — symptoms are resolving’

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Most Read