Joyce Crago’s portraits are characterized by an unmistakeable reality.
The portraits show the harried moments that these women can, and do, experience. Catherine McKenna, MP and Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Catherine McKenney, City Councillor have complicated lives.
The viewer can sense the struggle that these women face. They each have children; they have public, high-pressure jobs; they are constantly on and managing many responsibilities. Further, our society tells them they must be conscious of aesthetics — they must smile, they must perform. The balancing act they must perform is a struggle in so many ways. Male politicians also have these same high-pressure responsibilities but what they do not experience is an ongoing, every day battle with a system that is still, in 2016, a boys’ club.
The gazes of these three women show the difficulties faced by female politicians. To some viewers the gaze is one of profound sadness, to some it is austere, but the gaze is certainly not heroic. Rather it is human and humane.