The Carleton University Art Gallery is filling up in anticipation for the beginning of Mary Ann Carroll's talk this afternoon.
Carroll was the only female in the group, Florida Highwaymen, composed of 26 African-Americans during the civil rights movement in Florida.
Today she will be speaking of her life and art. The mother of seven children, Carroll continued painting after some members of the group stopped.
Organizers at the gallery had to bring in more seating as the rows quickly filled up.
Round of applause for Carroll as the event begins for avoiding the ice storm.
She flew in from Florida, a rough climate change for sure.
Vicki Heyman, wife of the U.S. ambassador to Canada, has stepped up to the podium to introduce Mary Ann Carroll.
Lots of journalists are in the room, typing, recording and snapping pictures.
Heyman gushes about the exhibition that will be launched this Friday at the SAW Gallery.
She says art and the artist's voice is the greatest factor of change.
"Identity, gender, isolation ... environment" are some of the topics that will be discussed at the gallery downtown.
Heyman reads from a letter to a quiet, listening room.
Heyman says she was handed an envelope from Tony Hayton last year with a letter inside telling the story of the Florida Highwaymen.
"Defied convention of social structure" is how the letter describes the Florida Highwaymen.
The letter draws ties to the Canadian group of seven with their focus on landscape art.
There is an irony is Carroll's membership in the group, Florida Highwaymen, as she was the only female.
Carroll stays seated to begin her speech.
Carroll remembers her first teacher and her first painting. As everyone went outside, Carroll stayed indoors, paid the teacher no attention. The teacher put her drawing of a thermometer on the board. She calls it her first exhibit.
Carroll remembers how she was told not to do certain things as a young African American living in Florida during the 1950s.
Carroll said she worked in the nursing home as she had kids and married. As her mum worked, she kept the house clean for her as well.
She says she never liked painting with light colours.
Her first experience with paint was seeing a big car with a flame on the side. She went to the man's house and asked him how he did it. He told her he did it himself and showed her how he mixed the paints.
She says her paintings weren't allowed to be seen in galleries.
She said sometimes the price of her paintings was a giveaway, but "it was a loaf of bread on the table."
A large round of applause sounds as she finishes the tale of her early life.
Carroll said the first snow she ever saw was in D.C. visiting Michelle Obama.
To laughter, she adds that today is the second time she's seen snow.
"I just never dreamed a black man would be president."
Carroll met Michelle Obama in 2012: "It was a pleasure to met her."
An audience member asks how Carroll felt when Barack Obama was elected president.
Carroll paused before answering that last question, starting and stopping once. Said she never dreamed she would see it happen.
Carroll says it never bothered her that the name of the group was Highwaymen.
She takes pride in the fact that she was doing the same thing as the men, providing for her family, the same way they were.
Her first job was in a cotton field, picking behind her grandmother.
She says she was around 14. She adds she worked in more fields than that too, but that was the first one.