(1931 - 1998)
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Joyce Wieland Biography
(1931 - 1998)
After graduating from the Central Technical School in Toronto in 1948, having studied design, Joyce Wieland went on to work as a graphic designer in the early 1950s while developing her practice in visual art. Living and working with other artists in Toronto, Wieland met noted Canadian artist Michael Snow and eventually married him in 1956. Shortly thereafter, Wieland's solo career began to develop with her first solo show in 1960 after a number of group shows. She developed a professional relationship with Canadian art dealer Avrom Isaacs and was represented by his gallery.
Moving to New York in the 1960's, Wieland began experimenting with film alongside her visual arts practice—paintings, assemblages, and mixed media works often including themes of eroticism and feminism. Film and the role of the filmmaker/voyeur figured prominently in her self-reflexive pieces where she often depicted herself as the subject of her own gaze. While in New York, Wieland became concerned with both American and Canadian politics. Particularly for Canadian issues, the sweep of Trudeaumania of the 1960's prompted Wieland to explore issues of nationalism, national identity, and political activism.
In 1971, the National Gallery of Canada held a solo exhibition for Wieland entitled “True Patriot Love,” which opened on July 1st. In this seminal exhibition, symbolic artifacts of Canada were at the pinnacle of the pieces, including plays on the newly recognized national anthem (1967), the adoption of the maple leaf flag (which replaced the red ensign), and gendering Canada as female—a comment on how issues of gender and nationality were interchangeable.
Throughout the 1980's, after her and Snow's relationship came to an end, she returned to painting. Themes of hallucinatory eroticism figured prominently in these later works. In 1987, the Art Gallery of Ontario held a retrospective, critically examining her work and offering an environment where her experimental film and visual art pieces could be experienced in tandem.
During the 1990's Wieland's health began to deteriorate, the artist eventually passing in 1998 from the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
“Instead of taking national identity for granted, Wieland called visitors to reimagine and reclaim nationhood.” (Johanne Sloan, “Joyce Weiland: Life and Work,” Art Canada Institute, 2014, page 31)