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Jennifer Dany Aube self portrait

I live in Toronto, Canada.

My studio is downtown on King Street East.

If you would like to schedule a visit, please contact me by email.

jendany@yahoo.com


Creating Art Is Part of  My Yoga Practice

I grew up in Hamilton Ontario. As a child, my favorite things were crayons and coloring books. I just could never get enough of them.  I did have a phase that I played with Barbie dolls, but it was more about organizing the blow-up furniture than it was about the dolls.  I was always artistically inclined, from participating in the design of the school yearbook to working behind the scenes at school plays.  Because career counselors and family discouraged my artistic endeavors, I thought that a career in advertising would be a good compromise between my need for artistic expression and a career.  In 1989, I registered in a marketing program at the University of Ottawa but I was soon disillusioned.  I did not fit in with this crowd.  It turned out to be the worst, saddest year of my life.

This crisis encouraged me to switch to a fine arts program at l’Université du Québec en Outaouais, in Gatineau.  I immediately felt at home there.  Not having any formal training up until this point, I had to work hard to catch up.  I was in the art studio every day, and I loved it.  During this time, the arts department was in a derelict building on Montcalm Street.  It was torn down in 1994, the year following my graduation.  While completing my B.F.A, I was the co-coordinator of the University Art Gallery, a teacher’s assistant and was responsible for the Arts Department Year Book in my last year.  I graduated with a Fine Arts Degree in 1993, and was first in my class.   Between 1991 and 1995, I had several group and solo exhibitions.

I grew up in Hamilton Ontario. As a child, my favorite things were crayons and coloring books. I just could never get enough of them.  I did have a phase that I played with Barbie dolls, but it was more about organizing the blow-up furniture than it was about the dolls.  I was always artistically inclined, from participating in the design of the school yearbook to working behind the scenes at school plays.  Because career counselors and family discouraged my artistic endeavors, I thought that a career in advertising would be a good compromise between my need for artistic expression and a career.  In 1989, I registered in a marketing program at the University of Ottawa but I was soon disillusioned.  I did not fit in with this crowd.  It turned out to be the worst, saddest year of my life.

This crisis encouraged me to switch to a fine arts program at l’Université du Québec en Outaouais, in Gatineau.  I immediately felt at home there.  Not having any formal training up until this point, I had to work hard to catch up.  I was in the art studio every day, and I loved it.  During this time, the arts department was in a derelict building on Montcalm Street.  It was torn down in 1994, the year following my graduation.  While completing my B.F.A, I was the co-coordinator of the University Art Gallery, a teacher’s assistant and was responsible for the Arts Department Year Book in my last year.  I graduated with a Fine Arts Degree in 1993, and was first in my class.   Between 1991 and 1995, I had several group and solo exhibitions.

Upon graduation I worked as an Information Officer at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP) in Ottawa, for almost three years.  It is during this time that I became disillusioned with the ‘art world’.   When I felt that there wasn’t anything left for me to learn, I left this job to travel across Canada for six months, to every province and territory except the N.W.T. and what is now Nunavut.  I learned a lot about Canada, had many first-time experiences, and visited museums and art galleries in every city I went to.  I also had a desire to visit my own country before traveling abroad.

After settling down in Montreal, I undertook another artistic project, for which I received a grant from the Quebec Arts Council to complete.  In 1997 I participated in an Artist Residency in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland for a month, for which I received a grant from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation.  In 1998, I moved from Montreal to Toronto for employment, as my next project involved saving enough money to get me to India.  I don’t know why I chose India, I just had a feeling that I needed to go there.  I did a two-month artist residency in Trivandrum, Kerala, India where I did a photo postcard series.  Even though I knew nothing about Yoga and Ashrams before going to India, by circumstance I eventually found myself at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Neyyar Dam, Kerala.  What started as a two-week stay, ended up being a two-year volunteer commitment.

There is no doubt that my trip to India was a life changing experience and only when I returned to Canada did I fully understand the depth of that change.  For example, I remember clearly being in a pharmacy and feeling completely overwhelmed by all the different kinds of shampoo on the shelf and finding myself unable to choose one.

After leaving the Sivananda organization I knew that I needed to work in the non-profit sector, as this was in line with my karma yoga (volunteer) experience.  From 2001 to 2007, I worked as the office/association/volunteer/staff travel coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders.  MSF is an internationally recognized medical humanitarian organization.  I am privileged to have met so many field volunteers and to have had the opportunity to hear their experiences.  In 2006, I traveled with the touring exhibit ‘Access to Essential Medicines’ in eight cities in Ontario and Quebec.  This coincided with the International AIDS Conference that was held in Toronto.

During this period, I continued my travel adventures in Central America: Yucatan, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  Panajanachel in Guatemala is a place filled with Shakti, powerful spiritual energy, and being in Antigua during Semana Santa was a surprisingly uplifting experience for someone who is non-religious.  The carpets made on the streets for the unending processions, was beyond a visual delight.   A trip to Barcelona, Spain, and visiting several of Gaudi’s masterworks  blew me away.  He was way ahead of his time.  I returned to India in 2004-2005 to undertake a six-month Yoga Teacher’s Training Course at the International Center for Yoga Education and Research (ICYER).  I was in Pondicherry during the tsunami and as you can guess, this was an intense experience.

It is clear that Yoga is the philosophy that guides my life and that art-making and traveling are part of my spiritual practice.  Really, all I want is to develop into a better human being.  Fully feeling every experience that is put on my path and understanding every expression put on canvas, gets me closer to that goal.

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