Shary Boyle (Canadian, b. 1972)
Looney Tunes, 2016
Porcelain and terra cotta, 28cm x 20cm x 20cm.
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery Collection.
Purchased with the support of the York Wilson Endowment Award, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, 2017.
© Shary Boyle. Photo: John Jones.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is honoured to be the recipient of the York Wilson Endowment Award, which funded the acquisition of Looney Tunes, a sculpture by Shary Boyle. This delicate terracotta maiden sporting a cartoonish witch’s features marks KWAG’s first acquisition of a work by this high-profile artist who represented Canada at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and the first sculpture by a woman artist to enter KWAG’s collection in over twenty years.
Awarded annually to a Canadian art museum or public art gallery through a highly competitive process, the York Wilson Endowment is administered by the Canada Council for the Arts and enables the purchase of a painting or sculpture by a living Canadian artist.
Boyle’s work consistently reminds us that making is a political act. Looney Tunes is representative of the qualities that have made Boyle’s so impressive in the last fifteen years: the ability to balance humanity with technical exactitude, a fearless commitment to feminist narratives, and a profound desire to see the social implications inherent in representation.
Looney Tunes is a type of woodland chimera; a seated figure combining the youthful body of a woman possessing the cartoonish face of a witch. This figure conflates the opposing roles occupied by women in most conventional fairy tales– the virtuous maiden and the wrathful crone. The body of the figure, left unglazed as if left unfinished, is a stark contrast to the vividly rendered face of the witch. Boyle’s balance of the demure with the grotesque invites rumination on an underlying fear of women in power.
Herein lies the power of Boyle’s legacy as an artist. Looney Tunes might be seen as a parable of the solitary woman, a trope within fairy tales that often signals a risk or a threat. Boyle, however, asserts that while her subject may be marginalized, rendered invisible or incomplete in the minds of others, her existence is an act of vigilance.
Shary Boyle lives in Toronto and works across diverse media, including sculpture, drawing, installation and performance. Collected and exhibited internationally, Boyle represented Canada with her project Music for Silence at the Venice Biennale in 2013. In 2017 her sculptures were featured at South Korea’s Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, and in the Phaidon, UK publication Vitamin C: Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art. Boyle’s first public art commission will be installed Spring 2018 on the front grounds of the Gardiner Ceramic Museum in Toronto.