Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More on Joyce Wieland

Toronto artist Joyce Wieland (1930-1998) was a young adult after World War II during the 1950s. During the war, many women worked in factories or in other jobs to help the war efforts. When the war was over, they were expected to go back to keeping a spotless house and making a home for a husband and dad. (The ads during the fities included images of smiling women in tidy skirts behind a vacuum cleaner or serving Ovaltine to their husband in front of a fireplace with kids sitting quietly on a couch.)

Wieland was caught between the idea of a "happily-ever-after" marriage and her passion for her art. Her thoughts about how she wanted to live her life are written in her journals from the early to mid fifties. Here is a brief excerpt from November 1955."Why for God's sake cannot we girls be brought up to be humans instead of dependent wretches. We cannot find happiness this way. Its [sic] not like in the movies, we don't always grow up and get married and live happily. And this is the truth which kills me a little more each day and disables me - little by little."

The volume "Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971" includes many more selections from her journals, along with her sketches. This book will be published in March by Porcupine's Quill in Erin, Ontario.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971

Joyce Wieland (1930-1998), the Toronto artist who was a pioneer in breaking through barriers women faced in the art world in the sixties and seventies, is known for her work in a variety of media. She made an endless number of drawings and sketches with pencil, pen and ink, and also kept a journal when she was in her early twenties as she was developing her ideas about her life and her art. Her drawings and writings are housed in the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections at York University in Toronto. This is where I found them when I was researching Wieland’s life for what became “Joyce Wieland: Artist on Fire” (James Lorimer & Co., 2001).

I have made a selection of Wieland’s writings and drawings, which will be published in one volume by Porcupine’s Quill in Erin, Ontario. Next week I will be checking the final proofs of “Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971,” which means the book will soon be available in bookstores. This collection tells us much about Wieland’s early aspirations and struggles, and the subjects important to her in her work. She loved to poke fun at politicians, the art establishment, and even artists themselves. Her sense of humour and great wit would cut through the most stodgy situations on any day of the week.

On 25 March 2010, the Ben McNally Bookstore in Toronto at 366 Bay Street (west side of Bay, south of Richmond) will host the launch of “Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971” from 5 to 7 p.m. My hope is that this book will help to keep Wieland in our consciousness, and remind the art world of what she has given to Canada and the world.