28/150: Joyce Wieland – The Feminist

The legendary Joyce Wieland (1931-1998) was a mixed-media artist, experimental filmmaker and Canadian nationalist whose feminist art made use of sewing, knitting, rug hooking and embroidery. She had a powerful influence on modernist art, and her 1971 retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada was the first ever for a woman artist. (Above: Confedspread, 1967, was her first attempt at using a quilt as a vehicle of expression.)

This quilt (1968) echoed the words of then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Her concern with the protection of Canadian Confederation and gender issues would repeatedly surface in her quilts.

Cooling Room II (1964) 114.4 x 94 x 18.3 cm., metal toy airplane, cloth, metal wire, plastic boat, paper collage, ceramic cups with lipstick, and spoon, mounted in painted wooden case

In 1956, Wieland married the artist Michael Snow (see the Art Junkie’s profile on Snow here) and relocated to New York with him in 1962, both of them already rising artists. She joined New York’s underground filmmaking community and her works showed frequently at festivals there. Many of her creative concepts, especially nationalism, formed while she was out of the country, heavily influencing her work when she returned to Canada.

One of her most recognizable works is O Canada, a lithograph of women’s mouths singing the national anthem.  To make this print, Wieland put on greasy lipstick and pressed her lips onto a clean lithography stone, forming the syllables of O Canada. Wieland was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the 1990s and died in 1998.

Joyce Wieland, National Gallery of Canada, here.

Short bio, Canadian Art, here.

Long multi-page feature on the Art Canada Institute, here.

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There are 4 comments

  1. Resa

    She’s so very interesting, and now I feel like making a quilt!
    I suppose Joyce and I both came from a background where young girls were taught how to sew, and do all of the needlework crafts. This may have become passe, but now very few know how.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J Walters

      I had the gift of working on a committee with Joyce Wieland in the 1980s dedicated to trying to get more women elected to Parliament. She was a whirlwind of ideas, incredibly creative and so passionate. All of which is reflected in her art and reputation. The lips is one of my favourite pieces ever, although I think her quilts are exquisite.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Resa

        Wow! How wonderful that you got to work on a committee with her! I love the lips, too. Oddly enough, my mom taught me to seal an envelope with a lipstick kiss.
        Thinking like an artist….. a quilted (delicately) Art Gown in white …. each section a kiss. It could be in honor of her!
        Just thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

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