Barbara Astman: a quiet that stays, group exhibition

Saturday, August 10, 2019 - 10:00am to Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 5:00pm

Barbara Astman

a quiet that stays, group exhibition

Art Gallery of Peterborough, Peterborough, ON

Curated by Wendy Trusler

This exhibition considers knowing, how we know things and the power of small moments — a shimmer of sunlight on water, the sway of reeds in a wetland, clattering teacups.

Aug 10, 2019 to Sep 22, 2019

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera suggests “the brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful…” In developing this exhibition,

Trusler and Leitch worked closely, discussing points of inspiration drawn from research, personal experience, and the Permanent Collection to compose a selection that considers the potency of poetic memory. During these discussions, Trusler shared a personal story:

The spring I graduated from art college I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Fortunately, it was benign and operable, the challenge for my surgeons was to remove the tumour and leave my ability to speak and form memories intact. To do so, they had to operate while I was awake.  I will always be grateful to my surgeon for his skill. I am equally thankful for his kind suggestion, upon learning of my love of canoeing, to screen a slideshow during the operation depicting his white-water trip down the Nahanni River. He gave my boyfriend the task of turning the slides in the carousel so they could be viewed while semi-prone. For all the energy devoted to quieting my mind that July day, I am sorry to say I recall only one very grainy image of a canoe and packs on a shoreline. In fact, the post-operative report indicates I seized two slides into the show.

What stays with me occurred both a few minutes and decades prior to the OR slideshow.

I recall being restless and asked If I could move. My doctor softly told me to remain still. I did, especially when I heard a drill buzz followed by scraping and chipping. To my surprise, rather than fear or anxiety, the sounds triggered memories of selling lemonade at the end of my parents’ driveway. Business was slow so to pass time my younger self crouched on the curb and chipped away at the cracked cement, delighting at how far and randomly the stones flew. Back in the OR I smiled and thought the surgeons had best keep track of all the pieces. They did.

Our brains are mysterious: grasping moments and organizing things into narratives, attaching them to smells and colours and sounds. The selection includes works that depict the familiar textures of landscape and detail of the domestic alongside process-based artworks which reveal a searching for and shifting of ideas to evoke the act of careful noticing. Together they hint at the capricious way the mind works — and carry the hopeful suggestion we have the capacity to conjure a summer’s day lemonade stand when we need it most.


Wendy Trusler is an interdisciplinary visual artist, designer, curator and writer who creates site-responsive installations that incorporate drawing, painting, text, sculpture, performance, and film. Trusler is an Associate of the Ontario College of Art and holds a History degree from the University of Western Ontario. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, was shortlisted for the Taste Canada Food Writing Awards for Best Culinary Narrative in 2014 and awarded a Chalmers Art Fellowship in 2015. She currently works as the Public Art Facilitator for the City of Peterborough.

Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Peterborough, 250 Crescent Street Peterborough, Ontario
image of a mattress with text under

Barbara Astman: Photography in Canada 1960-2000

Friday, May 3, 2019 - 6:00pm to Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 6:00pm

Photography in Canada 1960-2000
Drawing from the collections of the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, this exhibition celebrates the diversity of photographic production in Canada between 1960 and 2000. With nearly 100 photographs by 71 artists, the exhibition is formulated around themes such as conceptual, documentary, urban landscape, portrait and landscape photography, and investigates how certain ideas of photography both endure and change across decades. Artists include Ed Burtynsky, Roy Arden, Fred Herzog, Ken Lum, Lynne Cohen, Jin-me Yoon and Michael Snow…to name just a few.

Venue & Address: 
The Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery is located at: 147 Lochiel Street Sarnia, Ontario
photo collage based piece, woman in dress front view, woman in dress back view, surrounded by flowers
Image of work inside the gallery

Barbara Astman: Image Bank

photo of a seated person in a sheep mask
Saturday, June 22, 2019 - 10:00am to Sunday, September 1, 2019 - 6:00pm

Image Bank 22 June –1 September 19, 2019 at KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V., Berlin, Germany

Opening: 21 June 19, 7 pm

Image Bank was founded in 1970 in Vancouver, Canada, by artists Michael Morris (born 1946 in Saltdean, UK), Vincent Trasov (born 1945 in Edmonton, CA) and Gary Lee-Nova (born 1943 in Toronto, CA). A model for a utopian, alternative system of art distribution operating outside institutions like the museum and the market, Image Bank engaged in an international exchange of images and correspondence by mail. Among the artists participating in the ever-growing network of exchange were (besides Morris, Trasov, and Lee-Nova) Dana Atchley, Robert Cumming, Dick Higgins, Geoff Hendricks, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, Kate Craig, Willoughby Sharp, General Idea and Ant Farm. Image Bank maintained close ties with Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School as well as Robert Filliou and his concept of the Eternal Network. Using frequently changing Duchampian, gender-crossing aliases, and appropriating and reworking images and texts from mainstream media was both a subversive take on post-war individualism and consumer culture, and a way of partaking in an accelerated flow of data. At the same time, Image Bank’s production affirmed the mythological and libidinous power of mass distributed visual imagery and puns. Its interest in the idea of the fetish—which it shared with General Idea in Toronto—in rituals, and in archives shaped the collective’s manifold activities until 1978, when, due to a copyright challenge, it was renamed the Morris/Trasov Archive.

The archive is comprised of more than 10,000 files of ephemera (correspondence, postcards, stationery, notes, collages, and concept drafts) as well as photography, film and props. In collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, CA), KW Institute for Contemporary Art presents the most comprehensive retrospective of Image Bank to date. The exhibition gives an overview of the collective’s most important projects emerging from a moment of collaborative production that fundamentally questioned the boundary between art and life and anticipated topics relevant today, such as networks, tagging/keyword indexing, collective authorship, and UGC (user generated content). The exhibition will travel to the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia in Summer 2020

A catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring texts by AA Bronson, Zanna Gilbert, Krist Gruijthuijsen, Angie Keefer, Maxine Kopsa, Hadrien Laroche, Felicity Tayler and Scott Watson.

Curators: Krist Gruijthuijsen, Maxine Kopsa, Scott Watson, Assistant Curator: Kathrin Bentele

The exhibition is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, The Audain Foundation and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin.


Venue & Address: 
KW Institute for Contemporary Art KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V., Auguststraße 69,10117 Berlin        Berlin, Germany  
+49 30 243459-0

Barbara Astman, Artist Talk: Speaking for Herself

photo of Barbara Astman & Rosalie Favell
Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Barbara Astman

Artist Talk: Speaking for Herself Panel Discussion
Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 7 PM– 9 PM

Art Gallery of Hamilton
123 King Street West, Hamilton, Ontario

What are the concessions, accommodations, declarations or rebellions made by women-identified artists in response to the biases of the art word? How have these responses changed over the decades? Please join Barbara Astman, Rosalie Favell and other artists from Speaking For Herself exhibition take part in a panel moderated by AGH Senior Curator Tobi Bruce.
Find more details on the event at :


Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Hamilton 123 King Street West Hamilton, ON

Barbara Astman in The 80s Image

Saturday, September 29, 2018 - 11:00am


If "video killed the radio star" in 1980, what impact did video have on traditional art media? The 80s Image explores the curious resiliency of painting and still-photography throughout the decade, and artists' responsiveness to the rapidly expanding media landscape-video, television, cinema, satellite and computer imagery, and billboard advertising. In this exhibition, you'll see approximately 50 works by Canadian artists whose paintings and photographs helped to define the 1980s, including Peter Doig, Wanda Koop, Ken Lum, General Idea, Eleanor Bond, Barbara Astman and many more.

Venue & Address: 
Winnipeg Art Gallery 300 Memorial Boulevard Winnipeg, Manitoba
photo banner on the outside of the gallery, woman in black with red additions

Visual radical Barbara Astman

Barbara Astman - Furworks from the Newspaper series
Barbara Astman

Barbara Astman
Barbara Astman

Barbara Astman’s photo-based artworks question what it means to exist, and often in unexpected ways. “My art practice is considered a research-based practice in which process plays a huge role in the outcome of what I make,” she says. “I make images that relate to the practice of photography. It’s camera art, photo-based art and I use other media.” 

Astman is internationally recognized as a visionary who has radicalized visual culture, and she enjoys a variety of challenges. Along with her lengthy international exhibition history spanning four decades, she’s a Faculty of Art professor, lecturer, curator and researcher, and is active in the Toronto arts community, serving on numerous boards and advisory committees.  

She also makes public art works. “I work with developers to create something specific for a building. It’s a very different process and it has to be accessible to the public,” she says. Her public art commissions include a series of photo-based images for 217 windows at the Murano on Bay in Toronto (2010) and a public art installation for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin (2005).  

Barbara Astman - Dancing with Che
Barbara Astman - Dancing with Che

Her main interest is her own studio-based practice. She’s working on a new series created using glass bottles and other objects as negatives that she prints in her analogue darkroom. Her touring exhibition, Dancing with Che: Enter Through the Gift Shop (2011), is comprised of 30 images that she commercially reproduced onto coffee mugs, T-shirts, book bags, postcards, keychains, commemorative plates and other objects. 

“I’m very active with exhibitions,” Astman says, noting that her work is part of the Photography in Canada: 1960-2000 exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada and also on view at the Canada Council Art Bank this year. “It’s important for students to see exhibitions. You can learn a lot by showing up to see shows and getting out to see art in the city,” she says. 

Barbara Astman - Furworks from the Newspaper series
Barbara Astman - Furworks from the Newspaper series

Teaching is important to Astman, and she brings her experimental approach to the classroom. “I encourage my students to break rules, risk failure and not to stick to what they already know. That’s how they can grow as artists,” she says. 

She tells her students to keep their minds open, and to come in with a positive attitude and strong work ethic. “People think being an artist is an easy thing, but it’s not. It’s a lot of work. People go to an exhibition and think, well I could do that, but you didn’t, I did. Even for myself I try to keep my mind open to the potential of what’s out there and what you can discover as an artist.” 

Find out more:

Inline Image Template

Barbara Astman in Speaking for Herself

Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 9:30am

Speaking for Herself,  Art Gallery of Hamilton, March 2018 - March 2019

The longstanding exclusion of women artists from art history, exhibitions, collections, the art market and commercial gallery representation is not a debatable issue, it’s a fact. When exhibitions consist of only the work of men—the norm in gallery and museum exhibitions and collections—they are not identified as such because they don’t have to be. We don’t see titles like Men Artists from the Collection. In an effort to bring the work of women artists back into the conversation, Speaking for Herself mines the AGH collection to bring together significant work by significant artists who identify as women.

We wish to explore our holdings—historical, modern and contemporary—in a range of material practices including painting, photography, sculpture, and installation. The project features the achievements of both known or recognized artists while introducing lesser-knowns into the discussion. These conversations between historical and contemporary artists of diverse cultural backgrounds explore a broad range of themes including the body, identity, materiality, and private versus public selves.

In the spirit and momentum of this empowering historical moment for women around the world, we are very proud to present an exhibition that foregrounds the artistic voices of so many intelligent, perceptive, witty, strong, and creative women.

Monday Closed (open select holidays)
Tuesday Closed (Group Tours only)
Wednesday 11 am – 6 pm
Thursday 11 am – 8 pm
Friday 11 am – 6 pm
Saturday 12 pm – 5 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm


Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Hamilton 123 King Street West Hamilton ON, L8P 4S8 T: (905) 527-6610 F: (905) 577-6940 E:
photo series of a woman in a white t-shirt

Barbara Astman in Living, Building, Thinking: art and expressionism

close up crop photo of a woman's face
Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 11:00am to Monday, May 21, 2018 - 5:00pm

The term Expressionism is invariably associated with the period of art and social activism in Germany between 1905 and 1937, encompassing visual art, literature, philosophy, theatre, film, photography and architecture. In the context of an expanded view on the subject, Living, Building, Thinking offers a rich and thought-provoking perspective on the relationships between artists and societies, and the ever-changing responses and visual expressions that circulate through shared hopes and aspirations for social awareness and change.

Living, Building, Thinking is comprised of more than 90 works in all mediums, including examples of European art from the 16th to early 20th centuries by William Blake, Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch. Also highlighted are striking works from the German Expressionist and Weimar period, as well as mid-to-late 20th century European paintings by artists like Jörg Immendorf, Anslem Kiefer and Sigmar Polke. Canadian contemporary works by artists such as Barbara Astman, Natalka Husar, Nancy Johnson, Gary Pearson and Tony Scherman demonstrate the lasting legacies of Expressionism.

Organized and circulated by the McMaster Museum of Art and curated by Dr. Ihor Holubizky, Senior Curator 

Visionary Partners for Historical Exhibitions:
Huaijun Chen and Family

This project is supported by the Museums Assistance Program at Canadian Heritage/Ce projet est appuyé dans le cadre du Programme d’aide aux musées de Patrimoine canadien

Venue & Address: 
Vancouver Art Gallery 750 Hornby Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7

Barbara Astman part of the Look Forward initiative at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Photo of a person smoking
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 11:00am to Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 6:00pm

Did you know the AGO collection – both on display and in the vaults – has a total of nearly 95,000 works?  Curators are strategically adding to that number by acquiring key pieces, supported by the generosity of donors and collectors who share the mission to bring people together with great art.

To keep you up to date with what’s new in the Gallery and as part of the Look:Forward initiative, they’ve created a gallery space dedicated to showing many recent acquisitions. Located in Irina Moore Gallery West on Level 2 of the AGO – head up the scissor stairs and take a right down the hallway – this exhibit will rotate every few months.

Right now two key works from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Town (1999) and Butterfly (1985) are on display. Both works are colourful screen prints and feature Kusama’s signature polka dot motif. Kusama once said, “Our earth is only one polka dot among millions of others…we must forget ourselves with polka dots! We most lose ourselves in the ever-advancing stream of eternity.” In Butterfly, she uses contrasting psychedelic colours to appeal to our sensory imagination – and you may wonder if the butterfly is flying through space or if it’s caught in a net. Many more works by Kusama will be featured in the upcoming show, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, opening on March 3.

On a nearby wall, you’ll spot two works by Barbara Astman, Dear Jared (1979-80) and Untitled (1981). Astman is an American-born artist who moved to Toronto to study at the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU) in 1970. Though the works were created only a few years apart, Dear Jared and Untitled highlight a shift in Astman’s practice: a move away from using text in her work and towards a focus on the symbolism of objects in her photographs.

Alongside these works, you’ll also see Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I (1968), Jasper Johns’s Two Flags (1980) and Roy Lichtenstein’s Two Paintings: Dagwood (1984), all of which were acquired in the last year, thanks to a generous donation from Margaret and Jim Fleck.

Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Ontario 317 Dundas St. West Irina Moore Gallery West on Level 2 Toronto, ON

FOA Sabbatical Presentations: Barbara Astman, Richard Fung, Luke Painter & b.h. Yael

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:30pm to 2:30pm

Faculty of Art Sabbatical Presentations by Barbara Astman, Richard Fung, Luke Painter and b.h. Yael

Tuesday November 28, 12:30 – 2:30pm


BARBARA ASTMAN, PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHY:  Professor Barbara Astman’s sabbatical objectives were based on furthering and expanding her practice based research. One of her objectives was to spend time in the darkroom to examine abstraction though the photogram process. The darkroom is her research laboratory and the methodology includes an examination of the material and tools available to create with hand made negatives in the darkroom. The negatives used for this research were clear glass, mainly figural vessels.   This methodology allowed for a greater questioning and reassessment of the potential of the photogram in image making, as well as allow for the art to thrive and progress.  This exploration also incorporated digital intervention as part of the study. The darkroom was our research laboratory and the methodology included an examination of the materials and tools available and or invented to fully utilize hand made negatives, using glass figural objects in both the colour and black and white darkrooms at OCAD U. 

RICHARD FUNG, PROFESSOR, INTEGRATED MEDIA/ART & SOCIAL CHANGE:  In 2013, Professor Richard Fung received a four-year SSHRC Insight research-creation grant, the principal deliverable of which was a feature length documentary, Re:Orientations, which revisits participants from my 1984 video Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Asians three decades later. The film considers the shifts and continuities in identities, politics and conditions facing people at that particular intersection of race, gender, sexuality and class. The fourth year of the project was designed for what SSHRC describes as knowledge mobilization, and that was the principal activity for my sabbatical year. In short, this involved organizing screenings and discussions of the resulting documentary film Re:Orientations at festivals, universities and community groups in Canada and internationally. During the year he also wrote a number of texts and realized another documentary film Nang by Nang. 

LUKE PAINTER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DRAWING & PAINTING/ DIGITAL PAINTING & EXPANDED ANIMATION:  Luke Painter’s presentation will discuss two different but connected works created during his sabbatical: Modern Wand and The Teasers and the Tormenters. The Teasers and the Tormentors is a 3D animation that references and continuously transforms set designs from 20th century theatre, film and   illusion shows.  The work travels across different time periods, exploring the tensions between competing movements and making tangential, formal and narrative connections between references.  Through the use of mirrors in the animation, the viewer’s perspective shows the action outside of the camera frame which becomes a reflexive technique that allows the viewer a sense of awareness of the space beyond the set. Modern Wand is a number of sculptures that are amalgams and translations of historical design objects and furniture. They are fabricated in glass and wood through traditional and laser cut techniques and rest on a series of interconnecting and raised carpeted platforms. These sculptures convey organic, ornamental and anthropomorphic sensibilities with the appearance of holding the body and also physically suggesting the body at the same time.  The work offers a space for the viewer to imagine the often-contrasting themes of functionality and fantasy that played out in the 20th century in relation to art and design practices.  

b.h. YAEL, PROFESSOR, INTEGRATED MEDIA/ART & SOCIAL CHANGE: In her report of activities during her half-sabbatical, b.h. Yael will reference a number of projects, some completed and culminating over a few years of work, and others initiated and still in process of research and development. One work follows up on previous work around the politics of Israel/ Palestine, this time a consideration of images of witness and how these are perceived; the majority of the work is autobiographical in various media forms: documentation through a completed website, experimental animation, memoire writing, and photography.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD U 100 McCaul St., RM. 460, Toronto, ON
red hand on red background
photo of male dance in pose on the floor
image of colourful doors
illustration of woman reading