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Love of sports drives artist to create works using sports gear


Artist Samantha Woj, above with her portrait of NFL player Shaquem Griffin, was born with a rare genetic disorder called ectrodactyly, which is characterized by the absence or malformation of the fingers and toes. To create her works, Samantha uses equipment associated with the sport of her subjects – in Griffin’s case, she used a football.  For the works below, from left, Bobby Orr was done with a hockey puck, Lewis Hamilton was painted with a part of a tire, Serena Williams was painted with a tennis ball and Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk was painted with a catcher’s mitt.

By Karen Bliss 

During Culture Days (Sept. 23-Oct. 16), The Markham Arts Council, a registered, non-profit, charitable organization, is featuring both local and international artists as part of its digital artist spotlight program. On Sept. 23 (12 p.m.-1 p.m.), during an online session, the light will shine on Samantha Woj, a physical disabled visual artist who draws inspirations from sports for her acrylics and drawings. 

Woj— whose real surname is Wojciechowicz — has a unique approach to creation. “The imprints are created by throwing, rolling and bouncing sports equipment on Canva paper or canvas,” it states in the description. 

“The use of sports balls embodied the active and fleeting movements that occur in sports. By painting with them, the artworks capture and hold a space that reflects the unseen marks made in those moments. It also reflects the emotions that one can go through when either watching or playing the sport.” Woj was born with a rare genetic disorder called ectrodactyly, characterized by the absence or malformation of the fingers and toes. In 2019, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Montreal’s Concordia University, followed two years later with her MA in Creative Art Therapies, Art Therapy option. 

“My creative process is influenced by my love of sports,” she says in her first-person bio. “Whether it be as a player or a fan, my love for sports is incalculable. Sports provided me with a place to go and socialize. It also gave me an outlet to express myself and do something that I enjoyed. Summer 2021, I decided to channel my love for sports into my other love, art.” 

The Markham Arts Council launched the digital artist spotlight series in the fall of 2021 and has since featured more than a dozen creators, whose work ranges from still life to landscapes, animal drawings to abstract.  

 “It was formed to enrich the lives of Markham residents through arts and cultural programming and initiatives. Our mission is to serve the community by providing arts and cultural education by supporting the development of all forms of arts and culture in Markham, thereby enhancing the community’s well-being. We envision a vibrant and inclusive arts and culture scene in Markham and beyond.” 

For more information on artist Samantha Woj, please visit

For more information on this event, please visit

Karen Bliss is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pollstar and others. She has interviewed thousands of musicians, including Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Eminem, Shania Twain, Metallica and Michael Bublé.

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