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Sema Canaan Jonsson

 Sema Canaan Eide Jonsson 

“I believe art can change the world, at least it can plant some seeds that may grow!” -Sema Jonsson


If the women I am painting has or is offering their lives to a cause, then I surely can offer a year of my life to paint and honor 400 of them to inspire others with their stories or help to give these women a greater awareness.

Sema is Norwegian and was born in Izmir Turkey. She grew up in a female environment with a single mother and two sisters. Cosmopolitan, she speaks 5 languages and grew up in Norway and in the USA.  Additionally, she has lived and worked in Denmark, Sweden, USA, Spain, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and in France since 1991.  

Inspired by her artist mother she studied commercial art and lately earned her certificate in Global Diplomacy. 

Sema traveled the world working within the travel industry for years and then followed her husband’s career and raised a family. She is the mother of two boys, Sebastien and Axel. However, during this time Sema wanted to return to her love of painting. 

In 1998, she picked up the paint brush and eventually became a recognized artist/painter/sculptor in southern France. Her artwork promoted the wine region of Tarn and was featured in many art exhibitions at the time. Today, many of her artworks are still on display in this region.  

Sema’s collection of 400 portraits of Women Who Inspire® is combining her passion of art with a purpose. She creates these portraits with great dedication, compassion, and respect to humbly honor these extraordinary women. 




"One of the reasons I am painting these amazing women is TO INSPIRE others!! Perhaps we may help others coming after us". Sema Jonsson


It all started with the determination to heal myself from the past and to radically change my life around.  I needed someone to look up-to to overcome several personal challenges. At that time, I started to read about women and discovered their incredible stories.  I was in awe while learning about them and thus started my research and painting my role models. Once I started painting one portrait, it led to another and then another. 

It was their stories, their determination and the knowledge I gained that gave me the energy to continue while I lost my self completely in their stories.  They gave me the force I needed and were my friends. Many ideas arouse as I painted the portraits and I realized that I was not only healing and inspiring my self but also people around me. I realized that I could use the force of these extraordinary women and their stories to inspire others to compassion and tolerance in this period of change and hardship in this world.  

As often when we do what we are meant to do, miraculously we meet people that will open doors for us. This is exactly what happened.

I was invited to an event in Geneva  where I was fortunate to meet the first female Director of Webster University-Geneva, Dr.Clementina Acedo.  We discussed my art project and the concept to inspire students. She loved the idea and offered to exhibit the Women Who Inspire® portraits at Webster's 40th anniversary celebration in September 2018.  

Thus, the seed of this project  "The Pantheon of Women who inspire" was born.

 I feel this is my calling and my wish is to empower and offer hope to people, specially to the younger generation while planting seeds of compassion and tolerance as well as spreading knowledge of women's contribution to the world, This is one of the reasons I am painting women of all nations, all walks, race, age and fields. Showing that it is the diversity of women and men from all Nations that contribute to humanity and makes the world a great place to live.

Via my paintings I hope to humbly honor and offer a homage and visibility to these extraordinary women while this exhibition travels the world to inspire students. 

This is just the start of a fabulous journey of Women Who Inspire® and I am looking forward to help spread the message of these extraordinary women from all nations and all walks of life who dedicate their lives to humanity.

Yes, I believe Women and Art can contribute to change the world!

-Sema Canaan Jonsson




400 portraits of Women Who Inspire® 


Painting one portrait a day for three months, Sema has completed her first 100 paintings that was exhibited at Webster University in Geneva from 27 September to mid-November 2018. 


Her next challenge is to paint daily in blocks of 100 for 300 days, creating a total of 400 portraits of Women Who Inspire®.  Afterwards to continue with 400 men who inspire. 


This unique exhibition explores art as a medium of communication by offering the viewer to travel through the world of talent, purpose, passion, cause and determination.

Women Who Inspire® is designed to be a journey of self discovery and of self empowerment through art, human achievements and history.

This first exhibition showed the first 100 of 400 portraits at Webster’s 40th Anniversary kick-off event and was featured in their Meet the Artist series on 27 September 2018. 

"I was truly humbled and honored to be part of this important event", Sema.

This exhibition will be traveling worldwide to other great universities to inspire students and others while growing into 400 women and 400 men.



WOMEN'S PORTRAITS and their stories



The mission of Women Who Inspire® is about using their stories to inspire young people through the arts and to communicate compassion and tolerance through culture. 


  • To exhibit in universities and high schools to reach young people and to start discussions.
  • To exhibit at the UN and NGO events and corporations to reach adults.
  • To include women from all countries and all walks of life.
  • To create a journey of self-discovery & knowledge for the viewers through human achievements, history and art. 
  • To put women on the map and contribute to the 2030 gender equality target.
  • Strive to make love, compassion and tolerance fashion again

 Women Who Inspire® is designed to be a journey of self discovery and of self empowerment through art, human achievements and history.




Women Who Inspire® is intended to be a worldwide traveling exhibition
in a quest to explore art as a communication medium leading to self discovery and inspiration for the viewer.

The artist is also searching to bring out the natural positive emotions we all have for others; such as love, compassion, respect and tolerance via this creative travel.  


“Perhaps the seeds of compassion, creativity, dreams and love will grow into the hearts of the young, so that the world may be filled with such dignified women and men who contribute to better the world.” 

Sema Jonsson


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Surrender to your emotions and experience a shift!


"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and science" - Albert Einstein

Let go of your inner critic & judgment, open your heart to the experience and you will discover your magnificent inner being and transcend the reality of the contemporary world in which we live in.


Be present and allow the process to define you.


Open your heart by telling yourself that you will discover something important through the stories of these women. Remember that the spirit has no gender.

 Read their stories and imagine what she may have gone through to reach the public eye. Think of her challenges, passion, joy, pain, solitude, love and hardship. 

Answer the questions on the “Blog" page where you may find their Stories and Questions to come to your own conclusion or engage in a discussion relating to the question with others 


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Women Who Inspire by Sema Jonsson