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Edmonton artist reflects on her Time magazine cover portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Click to play video 'Iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg TIME cover painted by Edmonton artist' Iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg TIME cover painted by Edmonton artist
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton artist was recently granted the honour of painting Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the piece was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine. The portrait was done earlier this year and as Sarah Komadina explains, the piece of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice now holds much more meaning.

A portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Edmonton artist Shana Wilson has been shared many times since the judge died last week.

The portrait appeared on the cover of Time magazine in March.

Wilson said it was a cold day in January when she received an email from the director of the weekly publication. He asked if the magazine could commission her to paint a portrait for its “100 Women of the Year” special edition issue.

“I read it, and I was incredulous,” Wilson said.

“He said, ‘We just discovered your work online [and] we love what you stand for. You are empowering women on canvas. We have a very special edition of Time magazine, and we would like you to paint the cover.’

“It wasn’t until the next day I found out I would be painting Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

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Read more: ‘Wonderful’: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final summer was spent with family, friends and the opera

Wilson had three weeks to paint the portrait. She painted for 12 hours every day to meet the deadline.

The issue was so popular, Time released a second issue on the topic in September. This time it had a write up about Wilson and the portrait.

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Thank you to D.W. Pine, Creative Director of #TIMEMagazine and Skye Quinn, Senior Design Coordinator, for including my work on the front cover of this extraordinary commemorative project. Painting the iconic #ruthbaderginsburg from 1996 was an honour. My portrait will also be one of only 10 covers on the print edition. Frankly there are no words strong enough to express my gratitude and pride. I am forever indebted to TIME for honouring 100 Women Of The Year, over 100 years, in this special commemorative edition. I will follow up with more posts and details. For right now I simply want to read about these 100 inspirational trail blazers, take it all in, and feel the empowerment all the way to my toes. .#Shanawilsonartist #trumpfailed #portraitexhibition #womenpaintingwomen #portraitureprocess⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #100dayportraitchallenge #contemporaryportrait #contemporaryportraiture #oilportrait #nationalportraitgallery #artoftheday #modernartists #modernartwork #contemporaryartgallery #womensmarch #myNPG #womeninthearts #5womanartists #internationalwomensday #nationalmuseumofwomeninthearts #figurativeart #100womenoftheyear #contemporarypainting #PAOTY #artistsofinstagram #womenshistorymonth #womenoftheyear #artgirlrising

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“Without Ruth, who in the 1970s had a crusade that she never gave up on, to have a law passed to say, ‘You cannot discriminate in the workplace on the basis of gender,’ I wouldn’t be painting the front cover of Time magazine, I would be serving coffee to the men painting the front cover of Time magazine,” Wilson said.

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“It’s just the most humbling thing, to have a really tiny part of a legacy, of an icon.”

Read more: An elevator, a rapper and an elephant: a look at stories told by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Click to play video 'Iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg TIME cover painted by Edmonton artist' Iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg TIME cover painted by Edmonton artist
Iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg TIME cover painted by Edmonton artist

Wilson said her favourite part about the portrait is Ginsburg’s eyes.

“To me, there is a little bit of vulnerability there,” she said. “There is a very quiet strength.

“This [picture] is [from] 1996, and this is when she was just coming into her power, and there must have been moments for her when she looks at herself in the mirror and goes, ‘How did this happen? How did I get here?'”
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“Painting Ruth” for @TIME – a process video. I don’t use any charcoal or sketching in the early stages. I instead go to a very thinned paint and let the paint help me find the way. I kept the background hyper-flat to be sure Ruth would pop off the page once it went to print. Thank you dearly #TIMEmagazine for the honour of painting #ruthbaderginsburg for the monumental #womenoftheyear issue. #timepersonoftheyear #time100 #womenshistorymonth #internationaldayofthewoman #100womenoftheyear #portraitexhibition #womenpaintingwomen #portraitureprocess #100dayportraitchallenge #contemporaryportrait #contemporaryportraiture #contemporaryart #oilportrait #nationalportraitgallery #artoftheday #modernartist #modernartwork #contemporaryartgallery #womensmarch #myNPG #womeninthearts #5womenartists #artgirlrising #nationalmuseumofwomeninthearts #contemporarypainting #PAOTY #artistsofinstagram

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In terms of her appearance, Ginsburg is known for her clean and tight bun. In Wilson’s painting, there are wisps of hair. That’s because Wilson thought about Ginsburg after a long day at work, and how her hair wouldn’t look as neat as at the beginning of the day.

Wilson also decided not to paint Ginsburg in her judicial robes.

“I think it’s really important when we see women rise to the top of their profession, that we acknowledge there is so much more to them,” she said.

“Ruth is more than just a Supreme Court justice. That is the extraordinary thing that she is, but she is also a woman, a daughter, a mother, a wife, a grandmother and a friend.”

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Ginsburg passed away on Sept. 18. Wilson said Ginsburg was able to see her portrait before she died, and she was delighted.

While Wilson never met or spoke to Ginsburg, she said she will forever hold onto this journey, and remember getting to know Ginsburg through every brush stroke.

“This painting is forever a piece of my soul,” she said.

The portrait will be on display at Edmonton’s Peter Robertson Art Gallery for at least two weeks. It will also be facing the window in order to give all Edmontonians a chance to see it in person.

Wilson said she would like to see the portrait ultimately end up at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery or the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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