Three years ago, unhappy with Canada’s role in the Afghanistan war, artist Joanne Tod set herself a grim task: she would paint a portrait of every Canadian soldier who died in the conflict.
The decision reflected her own mixed feelings about the war. On the one hand, Tod, who lectures in U of T’s visual studies department, wanted to honour the individuals who had lost their lives. But as a “staunch pacifist” she also strongly opposed Canada’s involvement.
The result is “Oh, Canada – A Lament” – a series of 121 six by- five-inch portraits painted on birch ply and mounted on a freestanding wall among segments of a Canadian flag. Tod says the fractured flag, which appears to have been blown into pieces, symbolizes a “weakened state.”
The Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum in Mount Hope, Ontario, displayed “Oh, Canada – A Lament” between June and November. Tod hopes that a philanthropist will buy the piece for a museum – in which case, she says, she would donate the proceeds to a fund for families of soldiers who lost their lives.