Community Highlight: Artist/Superhero Louise Kollinger


We like to think that community is at the heart of St. Vital Centre. And when it came time for the Centre’s recent renovation, we knew community should be reflected in the heart and hearth of our space – including new artwork in our Food Hall.

The pieces we choose were created by Winnipeg artist Louise Kollinger, and we’re sharing her story as the first of our on-going series of community profiles.

Kollinger painted the 7’ x 9‘ canvases for the Centre wearing Wonder Woman socks – fitting, because we think she’s a heroine in her own right. Kollinger calls on the super power of art in her battle with ALS.

“I’m living with ALS, I’m not dying from ALS,” she says of what’s it’s like to face the rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. “Art is my therapy.”

Kollinger is a Winnipeg artist known for her abstract and impressionist pieces, created with bold colours layered onto canvas with a palette knife. Inspired by two of her smaller pieces, we commissioned larger versions for our Food Hall.

Kollinger was diagnosed with ALS in June of 2012, and completed the pieces we commissioned in September of that same year.

Since then, she says, while her brain knows what it wants, her hands no longer cooperate as she loses strength to the disease. In her bright Exchange District studio, she uses a stand to help prop her arms closer to her canvas, continuing to create.

“When you have a burning passion for something, you find a way to do it.” And, she says, ”Art is immortal.”

While Kollinger doesn’t want the story of her illness to be the story of her art, she does hope people find inspiration in her work – even in the environment of a busy shopping centre.

“You can get an appreciation for art just being around it, almost through osmosis,” she says. “Not many people go to museums. But that’s what art is for – to heighten the experience of people, no matter where they are.”

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