October 3, 2019

“From arm-wrestling to ART”

The collection of my pieces would not exist without the collaboration of Roman Svoboda.  I’ve posted this article I’d written for the Barrie Examiner, just recently, to honor our story.  Thank you, Merci, Miigwetch!

“From Arm-wrestling to Art”

Chantal SdC-Leduc has been dabbling in various artistic mediums since as far back as the age of 8; anything from sketch, pastels, collage or painting created a consistent draw. Native of Timiskaming and of Algonquin heritage, she continuously challenged her artistic abilities, and sought out ways to express her roots, however not until 2007 did she feverishly produce abstract works during her university years.  This was the first time that she’d lived in a large city and resocialization was impactful; art was a tool she used to cope with the culture shock of the city.  Chantal studied psychology and social work at the University of Waterloo while competing in armwrestling at the international level; a sport she’d been involved in since 1996. “Painting squeezed it’s way in on a regular basis, as part of my identity, no matter what I was doing, but always with little time to completely dive in” she says.  In 2014, she met a boxing coach, Roman Svoboda, to step up her armwrestling game which ignited a partnership to prepare for a World winning.  Indeed, Chantal travelled to Malaysia winning an Arm-wrestling World Championship in 2015, with Roman at her side. But little did she realize the artistic talents Roman possessed.  Through a chance encounter and conversation about her artistic aspirations, she and he both suddenly knew that they would have to continue collaborating in the world of art, but she would have to retire from competitive sports.  “Retiring from armwrestling was a jagged pill to swallow after almost 2 decades in the sport, but a necessary one”, she reflects, “I needed to focus on developing my artistic skills from a scratch-level and Roman knew this, but I had to choose”.  Roman is a Artist/Restorator with a background in classic arts and engineering; she, a self-taught artist with no artistic foundation, but the perseverance to learn everything he had to teach, “He was confident in my ability to create and learn, much like how we trained for the World’s in Malaysia. “He is old-school and I like that”.   They shared one particular foundational belief; you get where you need to go with “drive, determination, and dedication” and with this they plunged into an intense working relationship over the course of 5 years producing a combination of over 500 sketches/works and various assignments to develop her artistic skills.

Today, the work has taken on a life of its own and Chantal is developing her own style moving fluidly between mediums and themes.  She’s shown some of her work at the McLaren Art Gallery in Barrie, Ontario to raise money for their organization, in the past 5 years, and this marked the debut of her public showings.  Her abstract painting “Oppression” has been published in the “International Artist” Magazine (issue 126) this past March as one of the finalists for “experimental abstract work”.  Her surrealism piece, “Ballad of the Butterflies”, has been published by “Fusionart.com” as a finalist in their surrealism online competition this past spring as well.

Chantal is now currently showing a series of her works at the Rotunda at the Barrie City Hall; an expo that was curated and setup by Roman himself until September 28th. “We both take an enormous amount of pride in showing our work.  Roman took the lead on making sure this expo got off the ground and contributing a significant amount of time, artistic savoir-faire, and of his own personal talent to providing an excellent show for Barrie to see.  Copies of Da Vinci’s work, “Madonna of the Rocks” are currently a “must-see”, as part of the expo, and are available for viewing amongst other works, at the Barrie City Hall Rotunda during  this week’s business hours,  as the highlight of their collaboration.

For more about the artist’s bio and current works of art please visit Artthreadevolution.com