More than a smiling face

A painting of the missing woman Kit Currie by Toronto art instructor Kim Lee Kho

A painting of the missing woman Kit Currie by Toronto art instructor Kim Lee Kho

Catherine “Kit” Currie, a 51-year-old artist and art model who went missing mid-August, is being memorialized through paintings and drawings of her likeness being posted to social media.

On Friday, Currie’s family posted a message to the Help Find Kit Currie Facebook page: “We have found our beloved Kit.” The message coincides with the police discovery of female remains near Rosedale Valley Road and Mount Pleasant Road. Currie’s bike and helmet were found nearby.

Currie was a practising Wiccan, an adorer of the outdoors, and a frequent art model in Toronto’s life-drawing community. Ashlee Elizabeth was the first artist to post a likeness of Currie to Twitter with the hashtag #rememberingkitcurrie. She first met Currie in 2006, when she drew her in a portrait class at the Toronto School of Art.

“Her calming presence was unforgettable,” she said. “She always stayed in place for long periods of time, seeming to take her mind someplace very quiet and still.”

Elizabeth eventually moved on to the Ontario College of Art and Design, but Currie would still be on campus occasionally when she modelled for various life-drawing classes at the college.

“I will definitely miss running into the beautiful red-haired lady that I once loved to draw,” Elizabeth said. “Her memory lives on in our work.”

Kim Lee Kho is a visual artist and art instructor in Toronto, currently teaching at Fleming College in Haliburton, and was the second artist to post a painting of Currie to Twitter. Kho only knew Currie from working with her, whether by drawing, painting, or hiring her as an art model, but she left a lasting impression.

“She was beautiful, not in the pop culture sense, more timeless,” Kho said. “Being also an artist, she really understood what made for a good pose.”

Kho said a student told her Currie was the model she’d always hoped would walk into the studio for drawing class. For Kho, her student’s feelings towards Currie perfectly encapsulated the impression she left on people.

“Drawing or painting someone makes you care about them a lot more than your relationship outside of that would suggest,” she said.

“I’m sorry I didn’t know her better, and now, of course, none of us will have the chance.”

In remembrance of Currie, the family has asked that people support the SAR Dogs of Ontario and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Health and Mental Illness.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Sept. 10, 2014.

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