Monday, October 2, 2017

Cathy Daley, by Michaela Anderson

Cathy Daley, born 1955, is an Associate Professor at Ontario College of Art and Design, Ontario, Canada. She's published many times in artfairs and solo and group exhibitions, received many awards and has been featured in many collections.1 She utilizes black, oil-pastel silhouettes of abstracted women's bodies to explore her persisting fascination with the female form and identity. In her artist statement, she says her work draws from "cultural images inspired by ballerina tutus, the garb of fairy-tale princesses and Barbie doll couture"1
Untitled 1054, 2017
Oil Pastel on Vellum
43 × 79 in

"Untitled 1054," a piece in her solo show hosted by Newzones, Calgary in 2017, reflects this investigation into the female form; the use of black pastel on translucent vellum enables full expression of motion, bold, expressive lines, and high contrast, Daley's work "investigates childhood memories of what it means to be female in Western culture."1

Untitled 1050, 2017
Oil Pastel on Vellum
43 × 76 in
What drew me to these works was how simple it seemed in theory--high contrast, gray scale paintings with a common motif: women, and femininity. Yet as I looked further into these paintings, I saw what seemed to be ideas that were tied into every painting. Daley's work, like "Untitled 1050," another piece from her show in Newzones, Calgary, is full of an interesting tension. The figures seem to be bold and energetic, but shrouded by abstraction from the waist up. The common consistency of the legs between pieces may reflect Daley's perception of the cultural representation of the feminine and the body. 
Untitled 1063
Oil Pastel on Vellum
24 × 19 in
"Untitled 1063" is another piece from Daley's solo show. Roni Feinstein from Art in America has written that her work "reflect[s] a contemporary, post-feminist ambivalence toward fashion, critiquing the garment industry’s wrapped-and-bound feminine ideal and the notion of woman as spectacle." My first impression was that her work was striking in it's simplicity, but it's left me wondering about femininity as a whole. Her expression has me inspired, and I hope I can achieve her level of emotion in my own work.


Daley, Cathy. “About.” Cathy Daley, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.1

“Cathy Daley.” Cathy Daley, Artsy, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

“Cathy Daley.” Artnet, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

Catherine Osborne. "Cathy Daley (exhibition)." Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine, Oct.-Dec. 1996, pp. 69-70. General OneFile, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

Campbell, N. (1993). Cathy daley. Matriart, 3(3), 7-11. Retrieved from

Works cited

Daley, Cathy. "Untitled 1063"

Daley, Cathy. "Untitled 1050"

Daley, Cathy. "Untitled 1054"

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