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O Canada
Canadian patriot, culture and identity, film, painting, Michael Snow, artist-husband, nationalism, 1960s, patriotism, male-dominated art world,women\'s art-making,culture, identity, first female artist exhibition - Canadian National Gallery, female artist role model, patriotism,

In the lithographic  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  shown here, Wieland is playing with the process of making a lithographic print, while at the same time exploring ideas related to  feminismFeminism essentially comprises a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and philosophies concerned with gender inequalities, and equal rights for people of all genders. Especially since the late 1960s, when the feminist art movement can be said to have emerged, women have been particularly interested in what makes them different from males — what makes women artists and their art different from male artists and their art. This has been most prominent in the United States, Britain, and Germany, although there are numerous precursors to the movement, and it has spread to many other cultures since the 1970s. Feminists point out that throughout most of recorded history males have imposed patriarchal (father-centered) social systems (in which they have dominated females). Although it is not the goal of this article to recount the development of feminist theory in full, the history of feminist art cannot be understood apart from it. Feminist theory must take into account the circumstances of most women's lives as mothers, household workers, and caregivers, in addition to the pervasive misconception that women are genetically inferior to men. Feminist art notes that significant in the dominant (meaning especially Western) culture's patriarchal heritage is the preponderance of art made by males, and for male audiences, sometimes transgressing against females. Men have maintained a studio system which has excluded women from training as artists, a gallery system that has kept them from exhibiting and selling their work, as well as from being collected by museums — albeit somewhat less in recent years than before. (  and patriotism. A sense of humour, passion, glamour and eroticism are also evident in her choice of  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter. The title, O Canada, reinforces this idea because, while ‘O’ mimics the prominent  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (  of the mouth in the print, this mouth position can also suggest a kind of passion or allure.

To make this print Wieland covered her lips with greasy lipstick and pressed her lips onto a clean  lithographyA form of printmaking where an artist prepares a stone for printing and draws an image using a grease pencil. The technique works on the principle that oil and water repel each other.  stone.  Lithography is a  printmakingA print is a shape or mark made from a block or plate or other object that is covered with wet colour (usually ink) and then pressed onto a flat surface, such as paper or textile. Most prints can be produced over and over again by re-inking the printing block or plate. Printmaking can be done in many ways, including using an engraved block or stone, transfer paper, or a film negative. The making of fine prints is generally included in the graphic arts, while the work of artists whose designs are made to satisfy the needs of more commercial clients are included in graphic design. (  process where artists draw images on a smooth stone using a grease pencil or oil pigment. Once the  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (  is complete the surface is covered with a gum Arabic solution and the surface of the stone is continuously hydrated during the print run. This process is based on the  conceptAn idea, thought, or notion conceived through mental activity. The words concept and conception are applied to mental formulations on a broad scale. (  that oil and water repel. When the printing  inkLiquid or paste media containing pigment(s) and used for writing, pen and brush drawing, and printing. Writing inks, even blacks, are rarely sufficiently permanent to be used for art purposes. Black drawing ink, known as India ink in the United States, is especially made for use in permanent works. When it dries it is water resistant, enabling it to be gone over with a wash or watercolour. Also available is a water-soluble drawing ink; though otherwise permanent, it is capable of being washed away with water, and may be preferred to water-resistant ink for certain work. Chinese ink is similar to India ink, although various minor ingredients are added to enhance its brilliancy, range of tone, and working qualities. Most colored drawing inks are not permanent; those made with permanent pigments are usually labeled with names of pigment ingredients rather than the names of hues. Printing ink is actually more closely related to paints than to the pen and brush inks. (  is rolled over the surface of the stone, the ink sticks to the grease pencil/lipstick drawings and is repelled by the water on the stone.

start quoteI think of Canada as female.end quote
-- Joyce Wieland

If you look closely at Wieland’s print you will see that her lips are arranged in seven rows with each row containing 10 mouths, except the last two rows which have nine, making 68 mouth images in total. Each mouth is different in shape and as you scan across them, they appear to be “speaking” a secret code or message. Each separate mouth formation is made to represent a mouth position for singing the Canadian national anthem, Oh Canada.


additional resources Things to Think About
  • Does Wieland's recording of the Canadian national anthem with lipstick prints in O Canada speak about patriotism? Do you think it could be offensive to some Canadians?
  • Discuss the number of women in political positions in Canada. How could social policies change if more women were in power?
  • If Canada were human, what gender do you think it would be?  Discuss this with fellow artists, friends and teachers.
  • What are some patriotic rituals or ceremonies that we observe in Canada?  What does it mean to be Canadian? Are you patriotic? Would you fight for your country? Why or why not?  Do you sing out loud or do you mouth the words to "O Canada" when you hear it played?  What role does music play in promoting patriotism?
  • Do you think Wieland may have been interested in love and romance when she made this work?
Online Activity
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Click on the series of words below presented to create a phrase.  Make sure your speakers are turned on!

Studio Activity
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Lip reading

  • Find out more about lip reading and determine how some hearing-impaired people communicate with this method.
  • Watch a movie with the sound muted.  Try to understanding what is being said by reading the movements of lips.
  • Pick a section of the movie where two characters are speaking and mute the sound.
  • Work with a partner to create new dialogue for the actors.
  • Present the work in class.

Silent movies

  • Watch silent movies.
  • Think about how the actors overact, mouth their words and use body language to communicate.
  • Develop a short non-speaking dramatic episode on patriotism, romance, or politics using some of these early silent-movie techniques to convey a message.


  • Watch Canadian music videos and pick a favourite star.
  • Try to emulate the artist as realistically as possible by lip-syncing to the recorded music.

Elder, Katheryn.  ‘Joyce Wieland.’  The Film Reference Library, January 2003.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 14, 2008 from:

Everett-Green, Robert.  ‘A Woman’s Point of View.’  The Globe and Mail, June 30, 1998.

Lind, Jane.  Joyce Wieland:  Artist on Fire.  Halifax, Nova Scotia:  James Lorimer and Company, 2001.

McNevin, Suzanne.  ‘Joyce Wieland Canada's Greatest Female Artist of the 20th Century.’  The Art History Archive, undated.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 14, 2008 from:

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