“In this piece, I stepped slightly out of my comfort zone and attempted a more impressionist style of painting. I was inspired by Helen McNicoll’s work depicting many female subjects placed in an array of settings. Also, I was captured by her unique and impressive style of painting. You can notice in the midst of the sunny and bright scenes she created that she really captured the roles of women back then. She weaved together a very intricate picture of the expectations and life of a female in the late 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s. In my piece, I wanted to do something similar but instead it would reflect my own Chinese culture. Back when my mom’s family lived in China, life was very different compared to present conditions. My painting depicts a young woman working in the middle of a rice paddy, surrounded by a beautiful landscape of terraces to grow the number one staple for billions of people. While the landscape is stunning, this piece also conveys the deeper meaning of the backbreaking hard work in the sweltering heat of the sun many women in China had to endure. Though I have personally never been to the country of heritage, I wanted to create a piece that would represent my country as well as the hard lifestyle that was once reality for many people.”
— Cianna Chin (Grade 8, Argyll Centre, Edmonton, Alberta)
Nineteenth-century Impressionist painter Helen McNicoll (1879–1915) captured the lives of girls and women in her luminous scenes depicting the Canadian countryside, childhood hobbies, and rural female labour. Picking berries, gleaning, and gathering apples are examples of the countryside tasks represented in her work.