Practice: Film, Mixed Media and Installation
Date of Lecture: 1989-01-27
Artist and filmmaker Joyce Weiland is among Canada’s most prolific and influential artists. Her work spans several decades and numerous mediums including painting, sculpture, assemblage, quilting and filmmaking. She is celebrated for her varied practices and her exploration of notions of identity, which she made central to all her work. Weiland’s art often reflects her own complex and varied sense of self as an artist , a formalist, a political activist, a feminist and a nationalist.
Born in Toronto in 1930, raised in poverty by her brother and sister, Weiland attended Central Tech where she studied under Doris McCarthy a landscape painter who was instrumental in encouraging her talents. Weiland’s first contact with filmmaking came through a position she held at Graphic Films in Toronto after completing high school. There she became acquainted with the means and mechanics of film animation, which was to be a structural source for her painting and filmmaking for years to come. It is also at Graphic Films that she met Michael Snow whom she married in 1956. Together, they moved to New York city in 1962, where they lived for nearly ten years, becoming involved with the rapidly developing American film avant-garde. Both Snow and Weiland produced films which shaped this important movement and they were instrumental in bringing underground film back to the Canadian art community.
In 1971 Joyce Weiland became the first living female to be the subject of a retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada. The show, entitled True Patriot Love/Véritable amour patriotique high-lighted the significance of her contribution of feminism, nationalism and ecological issues into Canadian art. Since then she has been the subject of a number of other large-scale exhibitions and retrospectives. Most recently, the Cinematheque Ontario held a film retrospective and published a book of theoretical writings on her films which was edited by Kathryn Elder.
Joyce Weiland died in Toronto at the age of 66, in 1998.