Margaret Alexandra Luke (1901-1967) was born in Westmount, Montreal. It wasn’t until her late 20s that Alexandra began to create art. Inspired by two local artists, Dorothy Van Luven and Dorothy Henderson, she began to pass and organize arts classes around the city. She used her wealth to help build the arts community in Oshawa, and became a member of several boards and societies including the Oshawa Women’s Lyceum Club and Oshawa Historical Society.
Alexandra painted landscapes in a large, third-floor studio in her husband’s home and soon discovered abstract art after visiting modernist exhibitions in Toronto and Ottawa. Desperate to be seen as more than a hobbyist painter, she sought out a portfolio review by landscape artist Caven Atkins in 1944. Atkins gave her a blunt review and told her that her Group of Seven-inspired style was not viable. This pushed her to explore abstraction and receive formal art training at Banff School of Fine Arts in 1945, then the Hans Hofmann School of Art in 1947. From Hoffmann’s teachings, Luke began to understand how to create energy in her paintings with colour, texture and usage of white space.
She began to exhibit her work in the early 1950s at different venues, including the Canadian Group of Painters and the Picture Loan Society. In 1952 she organized the first Canadian Abstract Exhibition, where she met the members that would form the Painters Eleven. With this group, she was inspired to create more paintings and she was able to showcase her works in a wide range of venues in the United States and Canada. Luke championed for the promotion of Canadian abstract art and played a very inspirational role in teh group.
Alexandra continued to paint until her death on June 1, 1967.