Joyce Wieland

About the Artist
I think of Canada as female. All the art I've been doing or will be doing is about Canada. (Joyce Wieland)

Joyce Wieland is considered to be one of Canada's foremost artists. She was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1931 and died in 1998. She was a Canadian patriot who explored ideas of Canadian culture and identity in her work.

In her art practice, Joyce Wieland was known to use a  varietyPrinciple of design concerned with difference or contrasts.  of materials and techniques. She would use any  mediaAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  or engage in any  techniqueAny method of working with art materials to produce an art object. Often implied is the sense that techniques are carefully studied, exacting, or traditional, but this is not necessarily the case. Examples include basketry, blotting, carving, constructing, découpage, embossing, encaustic, exquisite corpse, firing, folding, hatching, kerning, laminating, marbling, modeling, necking. (artlex.com)   that would meet her needs and she was sometimes criticized for not sticking to one major area of study. To Wieland, what was more important than media was her message, and her message was often gender specific. Avron Isaacs, an art gallery owner in Toronto, is quoted as stating about Wieland‘s art, “She was the first artist I had met whose work was done solely from a woman’s point of view. She was ahead of her time in that sense and radically important.” (Everett-Green, 1998)

Many of the ideas Wieland presents in her work became apparent to her in the 1960s while she was living in the United States with her husband the artist, Michael Snow. There, she developed an appreciation for Canada and began using ideas of nationalism and patriotism in her work. Wieland had an interest in film, as well as painting, and worked diligently to become established in the male-dominated art world of the 1960‘s.

Wieland was a great  advocateAdvocacy is the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, an idea, or a policy. Active support. This term is often used to refer to efforts to support specific art disciplines, or organizations, etc., as well as of support for the arts in general. Advocates are the ones who promote advocacy! (artlex.com)  and promoter of women's art-making and practice.  She often defied artistic conventions and used many traditional women's materials and techniques, such as quilting, in her work. Through the development of her ideas and practice she helped to force the re-evaluation of traditional women’s art and craft.  Joyce Wieland was the first female Canadian artist to have a  retrospectiveAn exhibition of work by a senior artist representing all the stages of the artist’s career.  exhibition in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. How fitting that this first major exhibition of art by a Canadian woman, entitled True Patriot Love opened on Canada Day in 1971. Wieland became a great role model for many artists who followed.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning