Sevim Onen in March 2015. Photo by Aysan Sev'er
Photo by Aysan Sev’er

Sevim Önen was born in İzmir, Turkey, in 1924. She graduated from high school in Ankara, and then from the University of Ankara, where she majored in French Language and Literature. She was married in 1945 to Emin Nüzhet Önen, a marriage that spanned 66 years until her husband’s death in 2011. She has two children and two grandchildren. She and her family came to Toronto, Canada in 1960, where she continues to reside. Her art career began relatively late in life, leading to an Honours BA in Fine Art from York University in 1979. She has had many solo and group exhibits in Toronto, Ottawa and İstanbul.

She is one of the founders of Group T Artists and its successor, Mavi Group, which exhibited for many years in various galleries in Toronto. She also arranged Turkish crafts exhibits at the Metro Toronto Central Reference Library, Glendon College, the NATO Staff College, and Black Creek Pioneer Village. She was active in youth theatre in the Turkish community in Toronto as a set designer. She is a co-founder (with her late husband and several of their closest friends) of Ankara Library of Toronto and continues to be a member of its Executive Committee.

Sevim Önen’s sensibility is very much influenced by Turkish folklore and traditions and by her love of nature, and both influences are reflected in her paintings. Her work is in many private and some public collections.