Joyce Wieland (1931-1998), an experimental filmmaker and mixed media artist from Toronto, applied avant-garde and postmodernist techniques with increasing frequency as she matured as an artist. Beginning with drawings and comic books as a child, she used art to express deep feelings and find a means of reconciliation with her surroundings. The loss of her parents at young age affected her profoundly and the visual arts helped her find balance in an increasingly desperate world. As a teenager, she attended Central Technical School, where she studied commercial art and graphic design. After completing her education, she worked at an animation studio, where she learned techniques she would later apply in her own underground films. In 1956, Wieland married filmmaker Michael Snow. Widespread recognition soon followed, in 1960, with her first solo exhibition at a prestigious Toronto gallery. Throughout the ensuing decade she was at her most productive and original as a “cultural activist,” with a strong feel for contemporary artistic trends, including Pop and Conceptual art, along with a vivid sense of irony-bound humour and a staunch feminist perspective.
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In 1962, Wieland and Snow moved to New York. They lived there until 1972. She attracted critical recognition of her work, including her 1971 solo show at the National Gallery of Canada, the first for a living female artist. Among her other works were a series of quilts Eventually, she moved back to Toronto, continuing to work until her death, engaged as always with such issues as war, gender, ecology, and nationalism, though it has been said that her later “representations of natural environments became less identifiably Canadian”. With their intense colours and near psychedelic effects, Wieland’s later landscapes seem almost outside of time and place, cementing her place as a Canadian icon.
- National Gallery of Canada
- Art Gallery of Ontario
- Art Gallery of Hamilton