Persimmon Blackbridge

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Persimmon Blackbridge
Born1951 (age 67–68)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Known forwriting, performance, installation art, sculpture
AwardsFerro-Grumley Award
1997 Lesbian Fiction
VIVA Award

Persimmon Blackbridge (born 1951)[1] is a Canadian writer and artist whose work focuses on feminist, lesbian, disability and mental health issues.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Blackbridge moved to British Columbia with her family as a teenager, and has worked and resided in Canada ever since.[2] Along with artists Susan Stewart and Lizard Jones, she has been a member of the Vancouver-based Kiss and Tell collective.[3]

A portrait of Blackbridge, by her Kiss and Tell colleague Susan Stewart, is held by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives' National Portrait Collection, in honour of her role as a significant builder of LGBT culture and history in Canada.[1] She is also featured in the 2006 National Film Board of Canada documentary film Shameless: The Art of Disability.

Artistic career[edit]

Blackbridge's work as an artist has been in a variety of domains, including performance art, installation art, video art and sculpture.[3] In 1991 she was the recipient of the VIVA Award for her sculptural installations.[4]

Major Exhibitions[edit]

Doing Time was Blackbridge's 1989 exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery, created in collaboration with ex-prison inmates Geri Ferguson, Michelle Kanashiro-Christensen, Lyn MacDonald and Bea Walkus. Incorporating twenty-five life-sized cast-paper figures of the four women, the installation also included texts written by the participants. This marked the first exhibition where Blackbridge worked with large-scale multi-media assemblage.[5]

Still Sane was her 1984 exhibit in collaboration with Sheila Gilhooly at Women in Focus gallery. This exhibition focused on Gilhooly's experiences of being institutionalized for being a lesbian. To create this exhibition, Gilhooly and Blackbridge spent 36 months creating a sculptural and written record of Gilhooly's time incarcerated in the hospital.[6]

Both Still Sane and Doing Time were cited in the awarding of the 1991 VIVA award to Blackbridge.[7]

In 2016, her exhibition Constructed Identities was the first to open Tangled Art Gallery, a fully accessible gallery dedicated to art focused on disability issues.


Although predominantly a non-fiction writer, Blackbridge has also published two novels.[3] Her novel Sunnybrook won a Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction in 1997, and her novel Prozac Highway was a shortlisted nominee for the Lambda Literary Award in 1998. She was also a frequent contributor to Rites, one of the major Canadian LGBT publications of the late 1980s.


  • Sunnybrook: A True Story with Lies (1996)
  • Prozac Highway (1997)


  • Drawing the Line: Lesbian Sexual Politics on the Wall (1991, with Susan Stewart and Lizard Jones)
  • Still Sane (1985, with Sheila Gilhooly)
  • Her Tongue on My Theory: Images, Essays and Fantasies (1994, with Susan Stewart and Lizard Jones)
  • Slow Dance: A Story of Stroke, Love and Disability (1997, with Bonnie Sherr Klein)


  1. ^ a b Inductee: Persimmon Blackbridge. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
  2. ^ "20 Questions: Persimmon Blackbridge". Philadelphia City Paper, December 18, 1997.
  3. ^ a b c "Persimmon Blackbridge"., May 30, 2008.
  4. ^ "The Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation For the Visual Arts :: VIVA Award Winners". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  5. ^ Hasselfelt, Karen, ed. (1989). Doing Time. Surrey, BC: Surrey Art Gallery.
  6. ^ Diamond, Sara (Fall 1984). "Still Sane". Fuse: 30–35.
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Ann (30 May 1991). "Drawing out city's finest". Vancouver Sun.