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Local artist turns her passion into a way to help others

Julie Wemp has been auctioning off her work in support of charities. [Sean Heeger]

Julie Wemp left her career as a registered massage therapist at the end of April, retiring after 19 years. Now she has chosen to pursue her passion for art.

Knowing all her life that she was interested in art, Wemp began expressing her creativity through sketches from a young age. She took art classes all throughout school and eventually moved on to watercolour courses as a young adult. However, it wasn’t until about two years ago when she realized her talent and took up the mantle of part-time artist. Dabbling in pieces of realism, Wemp did a lot of work on landscapes and other forms of still art. Today, she is exploring new types of art including working with fluid acrylics on abstract pieces.

With more time on her hands because of the coronavirus and retirement, she decided to take her burgeoning skills and used inspiration from events taking place in the world around her, to create new pieces and sell them for a fundraiser she calls Art from the Heart.

It all started with the piece entitled ‘Together’ meant to represent being together while apart during these difficult times.

“I had the idea that I wanted to create a piece that represented or reminded people that we are not alone while we are apart and the image of a circle with lines that connected that circle came into to my head and I created the piece called together,” said Wemp.

“[It is] a reminder especially during the coronavirus pandemic that we are all connected and it started with that idea of the painting and then I thought when I had a product that I was happy with, I thought ‘oh, I could auction this off and and give the funds to local regional hospitals.’ Then, as I got more ideas for the other two paintings, I thought I wanted to give the proceeds to three individual causes that were the reflection of the artwork being made.”

The fundraiser saw her offer three different pieces of art June 15, 17 and 19 through her Instagram and Facebook accounts. She sent out notices the week prior to the fundraiser to raise awareness and excitement among friends and followers, while explaining exactly what they can expect. In each post she would give information about the piece as well as where the money would be going when the art sold.

In addition to her first piece ‘Together,’ Wemp also created ‘22 Blooms’ – a piece inspired by the lives lost in the massacre that took place in Nova Scotia earlier this year – and ‘Breathe’ inspired by George Floyd and created to honour him and the movement that has begun since his recent death.

So far, she has sold ‘Together’ and ‘Breathe’ with both pieces selling the same day as they were posted. One hundred per cent of proceeds – $440 so far – have gone towards Region Ready and the Black Lives Matter Waterloo Region – Community Solidarity Fund, respectively. The piece 22 Blooms has yet to sell and anyone interested can purchase the piece for $525.

In the future Wemp hopes to make Art from the Heart an annual fundraiser, expanding it by potentially bringing in more artists and having an auction for a specific cause.

For more information, visit her Instagram page @juliewemp or her Facebook account.

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