As Lucy Lippard notes “Joyce Wieland was one of those wild cards that saved the contemporary art world from its straight and narrow conformity to an institutionalized “wildness”. The fact that Wieland was able to move back and forth among painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, quilting, experimental filmmaking and public art, questions the specialization that characterizes most “successful” art. At the same time Joyce Wieland’s art had always had a centre-unifying a personal, sexual and domestic landscape that over the years had grown to encompass a transcontinental landscape.”
“Joyce Wieland reinforced her artistic focus in 1970 by adding “woman” and Canadian” to her identity as “artist”. In 1976, Wieland summed up her ongoing interests in the creation of her feature film created in 1969 titled “The Far Shore”, originally titled “True Patriot Love: A Canadian Love, Technology, Leadership, and Art Story. “True Patriot Love” then became the title of her retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in 1971. Wieland’s strong feelings of Canadianism came about after her and her husband, Michael Snow, lived in New York for several years.
It coincided with the upsurge of the new feminism. “I think of Canada as female” said Wieland in 1971 while she was living in New York. All the art I have been doing is about Canada”.
The feminist revelation for Joyce Wieland and her art came about much earlier in her work. The sexual imagery from a female perspective can be seen as early as 1959. However, Toronto’s conservatiism of the day persuaded Wieland to be somewhat quiet about the content of these abstract, stained canvases, that years later she described as her “Sex Poetry” paintings containing imagery of wombs and cycles. Wieland had offered her feminist perspectives much earlier than the new feminist art movement emerging internationally in the early seventies. She continued her expressions of feminist ideas in her later works where we often bare witness to the unique expressions of her goddesses in nature, incorporating mythological ideas, nature and growth, calmness and struggle in her works.
Joyce Wieland ‘s art and film have been the subject of numerous one-woman exhibitions, including retrospective exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1968 and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa in 1971. Joyce Wieland’s films have been shown as early as 1967 at the Boston Museum of Contemporary Art, and in 1968 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In her lifetime, her art and filmmaking has been included in numerous group exhibitions in Canada, United States and Europe.
Lucy Lippard, Joyce Wieland, Art Gallery of Ontario, Key Porter Books, 1987, pg.’s 1,2,4 and 5.