Fashion, femininity and its accoutrements feature strongly in her work, and her “little black dresses,” in particular, have become an iconic presence in contemporary Canadian art.
Drawing on persistent cultural images inspired by ballerina tutus, the garb of fairy-tale princesses, and Barbie doll couture, her work investigates childhood memories of what it means to be female in western culture and explores cultural representations of the feminine and the body. The drawings mine contemporary vocabularies of glamour, fashion, popular culture, cartoons, street signage, Hollywood cinema, fairy tales, and mythology to examine the iconography of the feminine, as it exists in the cultural imaginary, personal memory, and fantasy.
Cathy Daley lives in Toronto and has been exhibiting her work throughout Canada and internationally since 1980. She has shown in numerous public galleries and museums, artist run centres and commercial galleries including The Power Plant, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, The Saidye Bronfman Centre, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre and Mercer Union and Museum Dhondt Dhaenens in Belgium. Most notably, her work is in the collection of The National Gallery of Canada and The Art Gallery of Ontario as well as many other public institutions and private collections. Her work has been written about in numerous publications such as Art in America, Border Crossings and Canadian Art Magazine. She has received awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council and the Bertolt Brecht Fund of Berlin. She is an Associate Professor at OCAD University.
About Cathy Daley
Cathy Daley’s black, oil-pastel silhouettes of women’s bodies reflect an enduring fascination with female form and identity. Depicting dainty and lithe female figures in dresses, tutus, gowns, and high heels, her images are inspired by fashion, fairytales, and Hollywood. Daley renders her subjects in thick black ink on almost translucent vellum, with vivacious, scrawling scribbles. The contrast between opaque ink and delicate paper creates a tension between weighty, striking forms and the lightness attributed to figures like ballerinas or fairies, suggesting an ambivalent attitude toward the mode of femininity she represents.
Canadian, b. 1955, Toronto, Canada, based in Toronto, Canada