As a child, Grace Duiker spent much of her time crafting art. From paper and glue to paint, she would create vivid, colourful pieces with whatever
she could get her hands on. In high school, she got in touch with her creative side and started developing her art in a unique way: bright colours and human-like figures with abstract faces. She spent her free time in the art studio at Ardrossan High School with just a paint brush and her imagination, and turned a blank canvas into an intriguing work of art.
In 2018, Duiker created her first painting in her current art style named the Beginning of the End. “It was the first piece (that encouraged me) to really find my style,” Duiker says. It took her six hours to create the piece. “It was about a really bad breakup I had just got out of.” Not only was this her first painting and the start to an art career, but Duiker says it is the piece she is most proud of and it is the only piece of art she will never sell.
What sets Duiker apart from other local artists is the messages she strives to convey with her work. “In my art I try to paint a certain emotion or moment in time; everything I make is a ‘self-portrait.’” Her art covers a variety of topics, such as female empowerment, sexual assault, mania, anger, exhaustion, and contentment. She brings awareness to serious issues through her work, and believes that she can make a difference by portraying these issues on a canvas.
Duiker also works hard to convey the message of body positivity through her self-portraits. “In my heart I try to desexualize the female body.” Through her abstract paintings, she says she paints women in a way “that a lot of people would look at as ‘gross’ or ‘weird.’” Her paintings often include female figures topless and with peculiar faces. “By doing this, I’m trying to normalize all bodies and make people take a step back and think ‘why do I feel this way when I look at this painting?’” Duiker says she wants her art to be relatable, and to “find comfort in the craziness.”
Since 2018, Duiker’s work has been recognized by the art community. Her art has been featured in places such as Café Haven in Sherwood Park, and in local art shows in Edmonton. Her first art show was the Zenith show at Parallel Space in Edmonton of 2018. “That show inspired me to curate my own show; it’s a safe space to express yourself and be celebrated for it.”
In August 2021, Duiker curated an art show called the Culmination at the Aviary in Edmonton. “It was a magical night, and I plan to do more immersive art shows in the future.”
Although her art is celebrated through shows, Duiker says at times it can be difficult to sell her art. “It’s not something that everybody wants to hang in their living room,” she says. Although art sales can be a struggle, Duiker says she does not want to conform to selling pieces she knows will sell, such as flowers or landscapes. “I don’t want to make art without emotion or a message behind it.”
Duiker is determined to look for more inspiration for her art through shows, and has also taken the time to craft dozens of custom pieces for buyers. She says that most of her custom pieces are portraits of the individuals in her abstract style.
As a female artist, Duiker hopes that her pieces will resonate with individuals and leave them with a sense of empowerment and confidence.