Barbara Astman

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Barbara Astman
Born Barbara Anne Astman
(1950-07-12) July 12, 1950 (age 68)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Education RIT (School for American Craftsmen), OCA
Awards Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council

Barbara Astman, RCA, is a Canadian artist who specializes in a hybrid of photography and new media;[1] often using her own body as object and subject, merging art and technology.[2]

Early life[edit]

Astman was born in Rochester, New York, the second of three children of Bertha (née Meisel, a homemaker) and George Astman (an auto mechanic and salesman.) She received her Associate degree at the Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Craftsmen. In 1970, she moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to study at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University,) and graduated with an Associate degree (A.O.C.A.).

Artistic career[edit]

Astman's practice is partly composed of public art installations in Canada and abroad, including an installation at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1987. Recently, she completed a project for the new Canadian Embassy in Berlin, Germany[3] consisting of a fritted glass tower wall. She joined the faculty of OCAD in 1975 and is a Professor in the Faculty of Art. Her work is in both in both public and private collections; she is represented by the Corkin Gallery, Toronto.

Early career[edit]

In the 1970s, she began exploring Polaroid technology and Xerography as a vehicle for art making. Her first successful solo show was held in 1973, at Toronto's Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography. Two years later, the Still Photography Division of the National Film Board of Canada now called the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa hosted her first museum show. Astman began the Colour Xerox Artist's Program at Visual Arts Ontario in 1977. She sat on the Board of Directors at the Art Gallery at Harbourfront (now called The Power Plant) from 1983-85. Since then, other board positions have included: the City of Toronto, Public Art Commission; the Curatorial Team for the International WaterWorks Exhibition in 1988. Her initial commercial venture was the creation of the album cover for the first Loverboy record for CBS Records.

Mid career[edit]

Liz Wylie curated Astman's mid-career retrospective, Barbara Astman: Person/Persona A 20 Year Survey Exhibition in 1995. It opened at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and then toured three other Canadian museums. The Art Gallery of Ontario reopened in 2008, after a year's redevelopment by architect Frank Gehry. Astman and AGO Assistant Curator Georgiana Uhlyarik were chosen to co-curate an exhibit focusing on Joyce Weiland and early feminist practice.[4]


Astman has received grants from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the Canada Council (CC)[5] in support of her art practice since 1974 and has also adjudicated numerous OAC and CC applications. In 2000 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy.[6]

Public collections[edit]

Astman's work is held in the following permanent collections:

Corporate collections[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The Clementine Suite

"...a celebration of the human spirit."[8]

Dancing With Che

"...echoes across more than a century of technological innovation and evolution of the medium".[9]
"Audacious, humorous, improbable." [10]


"Intimate, personal, and quietly enthralling."[11]


  1. ^ Holubizky, Ihor; The Canadian Encyclopedia[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Enright, Robert. Border Crossings Issue #90, Vol. 23, No.1, May 2004, pp. 43-50
  3. ^ Government of Canada
  4. ^ Murray, Joan; Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century, Dundurn Press, 1999, pp168-170
  5. ^ Canadian Who's Who 1997[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  7. ^ "The Collection | Art Gallery of Ontario". Art Gallery of Ontario. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  8. ^ Dault, Julia; National Post, Jan. 12, 2006
  9. ^ Liss, David and Rubenstein, Bonnie, Exhibition Curators, Still Revolution: Suspended in Time, the Museum for Contemporary Canadian Art, May, 2009
  10. ^ Wylie, Liz; Canadian Art, Fall 2003, Volume 20, No. 3, p. 139
  11. ^ Whyte, Murray, Toronto Star, Wonderland Nov. 16, 2009.

External links[edit]