In Embodiment, numerous works by Canadian women artists come together to examine the creation of social meaning on a variety of levels, from the personal to the global. Artworks by Joanne Tod, Suzy Lake, Shelley Niro, Jamelie Hassan, Jessica Karuhanga, Heather Goodchild, Betty Goodwin, Rae Davis, Thelma Rosner, and many others reflect diverse realities and experiences.

Photographs, video installation, drawings, and paintings extend in new ways, and often challenge, traditional representations of the female form, which have a long and complex history in Western art. As with all artworks, the selections contain multiple references and associations that speak to perception and reception, in this context focusing on women (and women artists) as being both in situation and indeed as situation: who we are, and how we see the world and navigate life.

Works in the exhibition address more abstract concepts of identity, and in particular, assumptions about the attributes, behaviours, and roles of women. They explore definitions of beauty and femininity, and notions such as gendered spaces. The artist as sitter or performer can be seen as expressing both personal experience and commenting upon broader social values. A number of selections encompass the conventions and opportunities found in groups, providing perspectives on belonging within a community. These can involve shared background and traditions, including ones neglected within larger cultural conversations.

Certain works widen their scope to consider the functioning of society as a whole, and extending further, the spiritual beliefs underpinning lived experience. While some selections offer insights via more conceptual art approaches, importantly, aspects of the body, whether through form, gesture, voice, etc. remain important symbolic elements. Taken together, the works in Embodiment suggest ways in which identity involves existence as ornament and instrument, and the actions of engagement and experiment.

Image: Thelma Rosner, She is lost forever, 1992, oil on canvas, Collection of Museum London. Purchase, 1992.