Alison Mitchell is a Canadian figurative painter and rug hooker. Her work features simplified, stylized subjects combined with exuberant non-representational colours that she hopes give you a little hit of dopamine.
Alison was born and raised in Ottawa and now lives with her young family in the seaside town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Prior to becoming an artist, she spent 16 years as a diplomat and legal advisor with Canada's foreign ministry. Specialized in human rights and the law of armed conflict, she served at NATO in Brussels, at the UN in New York, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and in Washington, D.C. Before joining the Government of Canada, she worked as legal counsel at the International Criminal Court in the The Hague. She continues to lecture in international law at Queen’s University.
Alison's studio is located at 80 Pelham St. in the heart of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built around 1760, it may be the oldest house in the town. Visits are by appointment.
Alison is a member of Visual Arts Nova Scotia, the Lunenburg Art Gallery Society, and the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia. She has a B.A. (Queen's), an LL.B. (Ottawa), and an LL.M. (NYU).
I want everyone to feel better and I suspect that three layers of hot pink paint might help.
I saw a lot of suffering during my former career as an international human rights lawyer. I interviewed and prepared witness statements for victims of the Darfur conflict who described in detail the slaughter of their children. I rescheduled meetings with senior foreign officials because the soldiers meant to escort me there had just been killed by roadside bombs. I observed alleged terrorists in jumpsuits hunched over in despair behind two-way mirrors. I told fresh-faced law students that there was reason to hope but worried often about whether I was selling them a false bill of goods.
One day I came across a German term that seemed to capture what ailed me and so many people I knew: weltschmerz. The pain of the world. (Shout out to the German language for giving this affliction a name.) I fumbled around in search for reasons to enjoy my one precious life despite my intense weltschmerz and found that cultivating an appreciation of easygoing moments helped. My current work thus highlights these kinds of moments using colour combinations – particularly warm, saturated pinks, oranges and yellows set against dull greys and browns – that I find to be inexplicably therapeutic or joy-inducing. My hope is that seeing vibrant images of people who don’t appear preoccupied by their – or the world’s – problems might lighten our load, even for a few seconds.
- Alison Mitchell, 2022