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Today we'd like to spotlight I.M.O.W. community member Cheryl Braganza, whose Economica submission, "The Harvest," portrays women gathering apples through the vivid, striking hues of Cheryl's paint brush.

How did you begin painting?

I never realized I had any drawing talent until I was about 10. A Belgian nun who was teaching me physiology at a convent in Lahore, Pakistan noticed how well I drew body parts! A paint-by-numbers set followed. Eventually, a personal meeting with F.N. Souza, a well-known Indian artist in London in the '60s, gave me that extra push. I have never looked back; I had found my calling.

And how did you become involved in human rights? 

Part of it must be genetic, as my parents always worked with missionaries in India and Pakistan who helped the poor. A chance meeting on a street in downtown Montreal with a woman from the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan was the spark. She was distributing pamphlets to passers-by on the street--she was a white woman, had never been to Afghanistan and when I asked "Why are you doing this?" She looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Why not?"

That was enough for me to get involved. I offered 12 paintings for their 2008 calendar that was sold with all the proceeds going to women teachers in Afghanistan. Now I am on the board of the Montreal Council of Women, a body of 30,000 women which is the voice for women in our city and has the tools to improve the lives of women.

Who do you hope to reach out to by publishing your paintings on the I.M.O.W. site? 

You have a global reach that I don't. It is important for me to connect with like-minded individuals who are committed to social change. My paintings tell a story and are meant to create an impact. Through your site, I can get feedback from others which is paramount for an artist.
How do you hope to create social change for women?

Women recognize themselves or part of themselves in many of my works. They see struggle and they see hope. I believe my paintings light up dark corners of their worlds. They celebrate, they heal and they can renew. Through my art, I am able to access other women's sufferings and help alleviate their pain. I know women who have cried openly when they connect with my work because it reminds them of something in their own lives. It's a powerful connection that creates dialogue and understanding. They feel inspired enough to change their lives. When we provoke change like this, we take on the responsibility to make this a better world.

Who or what inspires you?

The everyday and the ordinary lives of women, their joys and their heartaches, their courage and their weaknesses, their exuberance and their struggles.

What issues and activities are you passionate about?

People, painting, social justice, equality for women and men, writing, public speaking to inspire, playing jazz piano, and thought-provoking books and films.

Cheryl Braganza is a Montreal artist, poet, writer, pianist and cancer survivor who works actively with organizations that focus on human rights, in particular, women's rights.

She has exhibited her paintings in various countries, most recently in Quebec, working in oils, acrylics, batik and mixed media. She is self-taught but has taken art courses in Rome, London, École de Beaux Arts, Montréal, Concordia Fine Arts Faculty Montréal, Centre de Textiles, Montréal(silk-screen) and with Helmut Gerth, Suzanne B. Moyers (silk painting) , Helena Fletcher, Jan Phillips (Creative Consciousness) and Gregg Kreuz (portrait painting) among others.

BRAGANZA was born in Bombay, of Goan ancestry, lived and studied in Lahore, Rome and London where she began to paint in 1965, her main influence being Francis Newton Souza of the India Progressive Artists Group whom she met in London.

From 1966 to 1975 she lived in Montreal where regular solo exhibitions of her works were held. From 1975 to 1978, she lived in the Saguenay Valley where several solo exhibits of her batiks were held . She returned to Montreal in 1978.

Because of experiences with racism, she denied her Indian roots for many years. She started to reclaim them after 9-11 by publishing her story and through art initiatives. Between 2000 - 2004, she focused on issues that center on the Indian and the Afghan woman.

Her painting depicting the ancient Indian ritual of SATI is significant in that women in so many different cultures do, in fact, "die" when confronted with the loss of a partner.

Her paintings are in collections in different parts of the world. The Peace Dove on silk, depicting Afghan Women was exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through the Women's Art Society of Montreal.

She was the featured ARTIST OF THE MONTH at the Kirkland Library in 2000, 2002 and 2005 where approximately 30 of her works in acrylic and oil were on display.

In 2002, the vernissage was broadcast on INDO MONTREAL MAGAZINE, a Cable network of Global TV and included an interview with Anita Kumarasingh.

The oil portrait of Indian artist F.N.Souza done in 1965 was held in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery in London for 4 years for possible acquisition.

In 2008, the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan organization based in Calgary ( published a 2008 calendar entitled ONE WOMAN'S STORY which featured 12 of her paintings and captions that recount her journey through her illness and eventual recovery. All the proceeds went to the education of women and girls in Afghanistan.

In November 2008, she was named MONTREAL WOMAN OF THE YEAR by the Montreal Council of Women "for creating awareness of the plight of immigrant women through her images on canvas. Through her art, she has helped women to integrate, to be empowered and to be involved in human rights."

In 2010, she was nominated and chosen as one of the 200 Quebec artists to be featured in the RAEV project (Recognizing Artists Enfin Visible) an initiative of ELAN (English Speaking Arts Network).

Starting in July 2010, she will be featured in the SOUND & LIGHT show in Ottawa, where film interviews with diverse Canadians will be projected on to the Houses of Parliament for the next 5 years.

In October 2010, she was selected for a Poetry Writing Retreat in Newfoundland along with other writers from across Canada, mentored by Mary Dalton.

On her return, she self-curated an exhibit of 82 of her paintings and 11 poems in downtown Montreal from November 13 - 18, 2010.

She designed and published a 2011 Calendar of her works in support of the CANADIAN WOMEN FOR WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN organization, which is now available on their website for $20.

A 2011 Calendar was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of SAWCC, the SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN'S COMMUNITY CENTER in Montreal, available through them.

She has offered and continues to offer her art work, music, speaking, writing and organizational skills to the Montreal Council of Women, West Island Palliative Care Center, Literacy Unlimited, Teesri Dunya, Centraide, AMI Quebec, Rights & Democracy, Salvation Army, Chez Doris, Hope & Cope, ZONTA, RECAA, Le Nichoir, Social Equity & Diversity & Research & Teaching on Women at McGill, the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, Lakeshore University Women's Club, Hudson Artists Association, Atwater Library, Haitian Relief, the Montreal Children's Library, the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and the South Asian Women's Community Center

BRAGANZA is President of the Women's Arts Society (2013-2015), a member of QWF (Quebec Writers Federation, ELAN (English Language Arts Network), the Montreal Council of Women, the IWWG (International Women Writers Guild). Former board member of the Montreal Children's Library & the Montreal Council of Women.




I'm reprinting a heart-warming tribute from an artist friend written on June 29, 2009. It's years later now but reading it pushes the dark clouds away every now and then.... ......

Anyone who pays close attention to the Montreal news has probably noticed the name Cheryl Braganza cropping up frequently during the past year or so.

Montreal Gazette readers may have read Mike Boones write-up about her a few weeks back, or perhaps TV viewers caught her on the CTV news interview with Tarah Schwartz which was broadcast on June 11th. The written version mentioned, among other things, her upcoming solo show, and the televised interview took place at the exhibition referred to in Mike Boone’s article.

As a fellow artist and friend of Cheryls, I thought it fitting to do a follow-up regarding her solo exhibition titled ‘My Journey Inward’. It began with a vernissage on June 7th, and though originally planned as a one day event, it was so well attended that she extended the exhibition to last for the entire week.

Cheryl has shown her work in commercial galleries but is no stranger to the do-it-yourself art show, and in fact has been quite successful with this approach. Her most recent exhibition was no exception, save for the fact that this particular showing of 125 works dating from 1965 to the present, seemed to have touched an emotional chord in many people.

The entire exhibition space seemed to be bursting with colour and an overall feeling of joy and optimism permeated the room. Even the portraits of Afghan women, shy, and staring warily out at the observer, nevertheless possessed an attitude of hope, however distant. She knows a thing or two about hope and never giving up.

All things considered, one wouldnt expect such a positive outlook on life or the outpouring of joy that flows onto her canvases. For anyone who isnt familiar with Cheryls story, she is living with multiple myeloma, a form of bone cancer. Shes been through it once before, in 2005, went into remission after a long and painful journey with chemotherapy, and recently received the news that it is slowly creeping back. Nevertheless, she remains positive about the future.

Her passion for painting, piano playing at Café Griffintown and writing are some of the things that keep her going with an energy that is truly enviable. Her more recent paintings deeply reflect her commitment to life and living it fully, and the act of applying paint to canvas seems to offer up some kind of healing in and of itself.

And speaking of healing, right in the middle of the vernissage, a wonderfully kind Jewish man, Saul, who had seen the CTV program, entered and asked if she would allow him to perform a healing, something that would help her with the cancer. With her usual open-mindedness, she said yes and everyone who happened to be at the show participated. Encircling Cheryl, they all joined in the chanting of SHALOM . Apparently there wasnt a dry eye to be found when it was over.

Anyone who has the pleasure of calling Cheryl a friend, knows that adversity brings out the best in her. They also have noticed the amazing phenomenon of attraction. Strangers gravitate towards her, and she in turn has the capacity to bring those people together, if only for fleeting but memorable moments.

Is it her paintings, her poetry, her devotion to promoting equality for women, her music, or something which goes far beyond any of that? Ultimately, it doesn’t need identifying or qualifying. It is what it is. People love her paintings and they love the woman who creates them. If love can sustain a person in times of crises, Cheryl will be around for a long time yet, creating brilliantly coloured images and teaching us all by example how to appreciate each and every day to the fullest.

Suzanne Caron, Hudson, Quebec



1964 - Lord Mayors Exhibition, London, England

1965 – American Gallery, Mangla, Pakistan

1967 – Centennial Exhibition Expo 67, Montreal

1968 – Air Canada Exhibition, Place Ville Marie, Montreal

1968 - YWCA, Montreal

1976 – Solo Exhibition, Centre Culturel, Jonquiere

1977 – Solo Exhibition, Galerie de l’Arche, Jonquiere

1978 – Solo Batik Exhibition, Centre Culturel, Jonquiere

1980 – Beaconsfield Art Exhibition, Centennial Hall, Beaconsfield

1998 – Solo Exhibition, Kirkland Library “Finding What Was Never Lost"

1999 – Solo Exhibition, Bagel Expressions Restaurant, Montreal

1999 – Collective Exhibit “Art from the Heart” for AMI Quebec, Le Commensal, Montreal

1999 – Chicago Hardware Show – Hand-painted dinnerware on display, Henryka

2001 – Portrait of F.N. Souza held for consideration at National Portrait Gallery, London

2001 – 3 Paintings exhibited at performance of theatre production BHOPAL, Teesri Dunya, Montreal

2001 – Peace Dove on display at Montreal Musee de Beaux Arts

2002 – Solo Exhibition of 35 works in acrylic entitled “Breaking the Silence”, Kirkland

2002 - AFGHAN WOMEN'S CONFERENCE at UQAM. 5 paintings on display.

2003 – Women’s Art Society Annual Spring Group Exhibition, Ogilvy’s, Montreal

2005 – October. Artist of the month. Solo Exhibition of 30 works, Kirkland Library

2007 - 2008 Calendar of 12 paintings for the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

2008 - Feb.20-Mar.20 ATTIC Gallery of Contemporary Art, Panjim, Goa. 12 works painted in Goa.

2008 - September 19. SAWA Banquet, McGill University, McTavish Hall

2008 - November 17. 15 works- Montreal Woman of the Year Ceremony, Chateau Champlain Hotel, Montreal

2009 JANUARY: ATTIC GALLERY OF CONTEMPORARY ART, Goa, India. 14 works painted on site in India.

2009 - June 7 - 14 MY JOURNEY INWARD. Solo exhibit. Retrospective of 120 works at L'Oasis de Ville, Montreal

MARCH 20-24, 2010: OGILVY'S, Montreal. Group Exhibit - WOMEN'S ART SOCIETY OF MONTREAL.

June 12 - 19, 2010: HEY MONTREAL group exhibit at Maison Kasini, 372 St. Catherine #408.

June 11, 2010 ongoing: 32 works at Restaurant MANI'S, 2150 de la Montagne, Montreal

NOVEMBER 13 - 18, 2010: "LAYERS" - Solo Exhibit of 85 Paintings & 12 Poems. Oasis de Ville, Montreal.

MARCH 2012 - Group Exhibit at Ogilvy's. WOMEN'S ART SOCIETY OF MONTREAL

AUGUST 2012: Group Exhibit THE HEAT OF THE SUMMER. Montreal Art Center, William Street, Griffintown

APRIL 4 - 8, 2013: Group Exhibit at Ogilvy's. WOMEN'S ART SOCIETY OF MONTREAL.

SEPT-OCT, 2013: Du Silence à l'expression. Les Alcoves, Espace Hyperion, Quebec City. SOLO EXHIBIT OF 56 works.

NOV. 10, 2013: Shield of Athena Exhibit & Auction for Charity, Marché Bonsecours, Montreal

NOV. 19-23, 2013: A Square Affair, Art au carré. McClure Gallery, Visual Arts Center, Westmount

MAY 1 - 15, 2014: Galérie Fabienne Rhein, 1366 Ontario Est, Montreal. Group exhibit Women's Art Society of Montreal.