Shary Boyle

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Shary Boyle
Born Shary Boyle
(1972-05-26) May 26, 1972 (age 46)
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Education Ontario College of Art and Design
Known for Sculpture, Drawing, Performance art
Movement Feminist art movement
Awards Hnatyshyn Foundation Award (2010), Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2009)[1]

Shary Boyle (born May 26, 1972 in Scarborough, Ontario) is a Canadian contemporary visual artist working in the mediums of sculpture, drawing, painting and performance. She currently lives and works in Toronto.

Early life and education[edit]

Boyle was born in Scarborough, Ontario, the youngest of five children. Her family owned and operated an independent West Hill glass and screen repair business. There are no other professional artists or musicians in her immediate or extended family, though her mother (Kathryn Boyle, 1939-2016) and grandmother (Constance Dadd, 1911-2010) were gifted textile and folk-art hobbyists. She attended Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts high school where she studied art and music theatre daily, then went on to post-secondary studies at the Ontario College of Art, graduating in 1994. She was involved in the Toronto punk and hardcore music scene in her high school and early college years, singing in the band Liquid Joy. Her early interest in music and performance incorporated costume, poster and T-shirt design and the creation and free distribution of small photocopied 'zines. Her earliest 'zines and drawings were compiled in the compilation publication "Witness My Shame" (Conundrum Press, 2004). Between 1998-2006 Boyle supplemented her art practise of drawing and painting through published illustration (Saturday Night Magazine, The National Post, Maclean's Magazine, Toro, The Walrus), and worked as a photo researcher at Toronto Life Magazine between 1998-2000. Boyle has lived for short periods in Dawson City, Yukon (1996, 2002), Amsterdam, NL (1996), Berlin, DE (2001, 2005), Los Angeles, CA (2002), Winnipeg, MB (2002-2004), Tampere, Finland (2005), maintaining an independent studio practise since 1994.[2]

Art career[edit]

Shary Boyle works across media and genres, and is known for her highly imaginative representational and narrative symbolism that is personal, visionary and at times disturbing. Her work explores themes of gender, identity, sexuality, power and class, evoking emotional and psychic resonance through exquisite craftsmanship.[3] She is particularly known for her explorations of the figure through porcelain sculpture. Boyle's earliest porcelain 'figurine' series (2002-2006) used commercial molds and traditional porcelain lace techniques to create sculptures that mined the historical relationship between decoration and excessive ornamentation as it relates to women and gender issues=(Under)Mining Tradition|journal=Studio|date=2008|issue=Fall/Winter 2008|page=5|accessdate=19 March 2017}}. The series was introduced in a solo exhibition at the Power Plant in Toronto (Lace Figures, curated by Reid Sheir, 2006). These early figurines became iconic in the Canadian contemporary art scene of the early 2000s, with the series acquired by major museums across the country (The Rooms, Nfld, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Art Gallery of Ontario, Winnipeg Art Gallery) and internationally (Paisley Museum of Art, Scotland). Boyle's early experiments with porcelain and her subversion of female hobby-craft from debased kitsch to contemporary art is credited with reviving porcelain and ceramics as a valid contemporary art medium in early 2000's Toronto, bridging a class divide and questioning hierarchy between 'low' and 'high' art through feminist intervention. Collaborating and apprenticing with creators outside the contemporary art field (musicians (see below), ceramic hobbyists (Vivianne Hausle's World of Porcelain, Seattle, WA, 2002, Granny Annie's Doll Den, Winnipeg, 2004), tradespeople and artisans (John-Francois Furieri of Iconoplast, Toronto, 2010-2013, Andy Brayman, The Matter Factory, Kansas, 2017), Canadian arctic Inuit artists Shuvinai Ashoona (Kinngait, NU, 2011, 2015), John Kurok and Pierre Aupilardjuk (Kangiqliniq, NU, 2016), comic art (Kramer's Ergot # 6, #7, Buenaventura Press, CA, 2006, 2007), Deaf actor and English-ASL interpreter Beth Hutchison (Toronto, 2013) and acrylic nail artists (Hard Rock Nails, Toronto, 2016, Pinky's Nails, Toronto 2017) furthers Boyle's practice of calling attention to and bridging categorical distinctions that represent North American and European artistic, colonial, gender, cultural and class hierarchies.

Boyle has performed at a number of venues including VonRot GmbH, Berlin (2001), the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, Los Angeles (2002), the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2004, 2006), the Olympia Theatre, Paris (2005), the Fonal Festival, Finland (2005), the Sonar Festival, Barcelona (2005), the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2006, 2008), Harbourfront Theatre, Toronto (2008, 2012, 2015), Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, Yellowknife (2014), Yukon Art Centre, Whitehorse (2015), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2015), Banff Centre (2015) and FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St Catharines (2016). In addition, her work has been exhibited widely since 2000. In 2004 her work was featured at the Or Gallery in Vancouver (Companions). In 2006, her first series of porcelain sculpture was presented in a solo exhibition at the Power Plant in Toronto (Lace Figures). Boyle worked exclusively with the Toronto contemporary commercial art gallery Jessica Bradley Art + Projects from 2007 until she left to become independent in 2014. In 2008 the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge showcased her work in a solo show (The History of Light), and in 2009 Boyle's work was first exhibited with Kinngait artist Shuvinai Ashoona (Ghost Noise) at Justina M Barnicke Gallery in Toronto, curated by Nancy Campbell. 2010, Boyle's first national touring exhibition Flesh and Blood opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This exhibition was a joint venture between the AGO, Galerie de l’UQAM and the Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery, and was curated by Louise Déry.[2][4] Boyle represented Canada at the 2013 Venice Biennale with her project Music for Silence.[5] In 2014, Boyle was lead faculty on The Universe and Other Systems residency at The Banff Centre.[6] Boyle is a popular public speaker, with an extensive history of presenting public lectures, panel and symposiums and interviews internationally at universities, art centres, museums and radio/online.

In 2014 Boyle presented a 10-yr drawing/text collaboration with video artist Emily Vey Duke (The Illuminations Project) at Oakville Galleries, touring to Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 2018. The Illuminations Project publication was launched by Oakville Galleries Press in 2015. In 2015 Boyle travelled to the Kinngait Studios on Baffin Island, NU, to collaborate for the second time with Shuvinai Ashoona. The drawings they created together, as well as their independent drawings and sculptures, were presented (Universal Cobra) in 2015 at Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain (Montreal) in a co-produced exhibition with Feheley Fine Art (Toronto). A publication by the same name (You've Changed Imprints) was released in 2016. In 2016 Boyle travelled to Kangiqliniq, NU to meet the ceramic artists working at Matchbox Studios, inviting John Kurok and Pierre Aupilardjuk to join her on a ceramic residency at Medlata Historic Potteries in Medicine Hat, Alberta for September 2016. The same year Boyle proposed, researched and co-organized (Earthlings), an artist-curated exhibition produced by the Esker Foundation (Calgary) in 2017, touring to the Doris McCarthy Gallery UTSC (2017), Galerie de l' UQAM, Montreal (2018) and the Winnipeg Art Gallery (2018). Earthlings is an exhibition of visionary ceramic sculpture and works on paper by seven Canadian artists (Roger Aksadjuak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Shary Boyle, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok, and Leo Napayok), produced both individually and collaboratively. in 2017 Boyle has been invited to present a series of new sculptures at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale (Seoul, Korea). Boyle's first public art commission is slated for installation on the front grounds of the Gardiner Museum for Ceramic Art, Toronto, in 2018.

In addition to her sculptural and performance work, Boyle performs with musicians, creating shadow vignettes and "live" drawings, which are animated and projected onstage using vintage overhead projectors. In 2006, Boyle was invited to perform at the Hammer Museum in LA (A Night with Kramers Ergot), where she presented a live solo performance in costume with a curated soundtrack. Boyle collaborated with Doug Paisley to form Dark Hand and Lamplight, an opening act for Will Oldham's 10-date 2006 California tour.[7] She has also worked with Feist, Peaches, and Christine Fellows.[8] In 2012, she collaborated with the latter to present an original theater piece, Everything Under the Moon at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto.[9] In 2014, Boyle and Fellows collaborated on a new live multi-disciplinary performance called Spell to Bring Lost Creature Home, by invitation of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. The pair presented Spell to Bring Lost Creatures Home on a 5-date small plane tour of the Northwest Territories in October 2014, and across Canada for 10 dates in 2015.[10] In 2016 Boyle presented her first commissioned stage design for Voix de Ville!, a production of the Niagara Artists Centre at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St Catharines.

Boyle's work is included in many public and private collections, including The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Giverny Capital, Montreal Collection, The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal, The Bailey Collection, ON/NYC, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and la Maison Rouge, Paris.[3]


Shary Boyle has exhibited extensively within Canada, as well as in the United States, Venice, Berlin, Paris and Lucerne. In 2017 her work was presented in (Earthlings), Esker Foundation, Calgary, (Slipper), Susanne Biederberg Gallery, Amsterdam, (Making Narratives) at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, Korea, and (The Smile at the Bottom of the Ladder), at Galerie DC3 in Quebec. In 2016 her work toured in (Ceramix, Ceramics and art from Rodin to Schutte), Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, NL and la Maison Rouge, Paris, FR. In 2014 and 2015 her collaborative project (The Illuminations Project) and (Universal Cobra) were exhibited at Oakville Galleries, Ontario and Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain (Montreal). In 2013 she represented Canada with her project Music for Silence at the Venice Biennale. In 2012 she was commissioned by Dawn Cain and the Bank of Montreal, Toronto and Maison Luis Vuitton, Toronto to create exhibitions for their project rooms, as well as exhibiting in (L'Espace des metamorphoses), organized by L'Observatoire de l'Espace du CNES, Vallauris, FR. In 2011, she exhibited (The Illuminations Project) collaboration with Emily Vey Duke at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, US, curated by Virginia Solomon. In 2011 she performed and exhibited in (My Winnipeg), La Maison Rouge, Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris, FR; and Musuee International des Arts Modestes, Sete, FR (2012). In 2010/2011 her national touring exhibition (Shary Boyle Flesh and Blood/La chair et la sang) was organized by Galerie de l'UQUAM, Montreal. The show was curated by Louise Dery, and toured to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto as well as the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. In 2009, Boyle's work was the focus of a solo presentation (Moon Hunter) at the Fumetto -Internationales Comix-Festival in Lucerne, CH as well as (Le sort probable de l’homme qui avait avalé le fantôme), Nouveau Festival, organized by The Centre Pompidou, La Conciergerie, Paris, FR. In 2007, the artist presented (The Clearances + Skirmish at Bloody Point) at Space Gallery, London UK, as well as Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary in 2018. The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, presented an exhibition of her experiments with the overhead projector (History of Light), curated by Joan Stebbins, in 2008. In 2006, in an exhibition curated by Reid Sheir, (Lace Figures) was presented at The Power Plant in Toronto. The Or Gallery in Vancouver exhibited her painting series '(Companions'), curated by Sydney Hermant, in 2004. (Travels to the Realm Between) was exhibited at Katherine Mulherin Gallery in 2003, the same year she exhibited at YYZ Artists' Outlet. In 2001, (The Omitted Tales) were exhibited at Katherine Mulherin Gallery, Toronto, and (Lit From Within) was shown at VonRot Gallery in Berlin.[11]


Boyle has won a number of awards, receiving the Canada Council for the Arts International Studio Program residency at Space in London, UK, in 2007,[7] and the 2009 Gershon Iskowitz Prize.[12] She received the K. M. Hunter Artist Award in 2000, the Chalmers Foundation Award in 2004,[13] was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2007 and 2009,[9] and in 2010, she won the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award.[14]


Her work has been featured in a number of publications. These include The Story of Jane Doe (Random House, 2003), Witness My Shame (Conundrum Press, 2004), Kramer's Ergot #6 and # 7 (Buenaventura Press, 2006, 2008), Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope: All-Story (AZX Publications, 2007), Furnish and Fragiles (Die Gestalten, 2007, 2008) The Believer magazine (McSweeney's Publishing, 2008), Otherworld Uprising: Shary Boyle (Conundrum Press, 2008).[7] Flesh and Blood (UQAM Press, 2011), 2013 Venice Biennale monograph Music for Silence: Shary Boyle (National Gallery of Canada, 2013), "Shine A Light: Canadian Biennial 2014" (Caroline Wetherilt, ed. National Gallery of Canada, 2014), "Loud Silence" (Cachia, Amanda ed. the gallery@calit2 Press), "HB: No 4, Erotica" (Montreal: Editions HB, 2015), "Shary Boyle and Emily Vey Duke, The Illuminations Project" (Oakville Galleries Press), "Ceramix: from Rodin to Schütte" (Morineau, Camille and Lucia Persapane, eds. Ghent, Belgium: Snoeck Publishers, 2015), "A23. Vol. 1 The Mysticism of the Female" (Prim, Kristin, ed. New York City: Issue 01/Press), "Noise Ghost and Other Stories" (Campbell, Nancy, ed. Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 2016), "Shuvinai Ashoona and Shary Boyle. Universal Cobra" (You’ve Changed Imprints, 2016), "Earthlings" (Esker Foundation, 2017), "Vitamin C: New Perspectives in Contemporary Art, Ceramics" (London, UK: Phaidon Press, 2017).


  1. ^ "Shary Boyle". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2017-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b Mark Medley, "Why art star Shary Boyle stays put". National Post, September 11, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Drouin-Brisebois, Josée; Déry, Louise (2013). Shary Boyle: Music for Silence. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: National Gallery of Canada. pp. 178–179. ISBN 9780888849144. 
  4. ^ Murray Whyte. "Shary Boyle at the AGO: Outsider gets in". Toronto Star, September 11, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "Almost Famous: Shary Boyle steps onto the world stage at the Venice Biennale". The Walrus, July/August 2013.
  6. ^ "The Universe and Other Systems with Shary Boyle". The Banff Centre. The Banff Centre. March 7, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2017-03-12. 
  7. ^ a b c "Shary Boyle", National Gallery of Canada. [1]. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  8. ^ "Artist Shary Boyle gets 3-city show". CBC News, July 28, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Shary Boyle". The Banff Center. Archived from the original on 2015-03-06. Retrieved 2017-03-12. 
  10. ^ Thompson, Roxanna (October 23, 2014). "Weaving a spell in Fort Simpson". Northern News Services Online. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  11. ^ Dery, Louise; Boyle, Shary (2010). Shary Boyle:Flesh and Blood. Montreal PQ: Galerie de l'UQAM. p. 179. ISBN 978-2-920325-41-8. 
  12. ^ "Toronto artist Shary Boyle wins $25,000 prize", Canadian Press, October 27, 2009. Reprinted in CTV News. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Shary Boyle CV," Jessica Bradley Gallery. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2014. . Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  14. ^ "Toronto's Shary Boyle wins Hnatyshyn award". CBC News, December 2, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2011.

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