The Flesh of the World
Wendy Coburn (1963-2015)
The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, our entire team of staff, mourns the loss of Toronto artist and activist Wendy Coburn. Her solo exhibition Anatomy of a Protest, presented at the Gallery from October 30 to December 19, 2014, was a highlight of our program and a summation of her astute, critical, and passionate work as an artist. It was also one of the most important and momentous political works to be produced in Toronto in recent memory.
Anatomy of a Protest was a thorough analysis -- through posters, news footage, amateur photography, and social media -- of events that marked the world's first SlutWalk, staged in Toronto in 2011. Wendy's astutely perceptive and critical analysis of the protest, which included an organized group of infiltrators and the unwitting role of the media, was a tour de force. Monumental in so many ways, it touched all of us deeply, and became one of the most widely and intensively discussed works in the Toronto arts community.
In her work and in her life, Wendy Coburn was driven by a sense of perfection and social commitment. She was a revered and beloved teacher, and as Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, a gifted administrator and respected leader amongst staff and faculty. In recognition of her deep engagements and tireless work on behalf of the LGBTQ community and especially youth and students, she was appointed a Fellow of the University of Toronto's Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Most of all, she inspired us through her work as an artist. Her exhibition at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, which included the production of an ambitious, all-new body of work as well as the precise choreography of the overall installation, was exceptional in all respects. Her way of working was understated and yet inexorable; her work, acutely observant and sharply articulate. Above all, we came to know her for her sense of inquisitive speculation and curiosity, for her great warmth and wicked wit, and for her intelligence as an artist and thinker whose work has made an indelible mark on the history of art and activism in Toronto, which will remain as one her amazing gifts.
We miss her very much.
Joseph Barnicke (1922-2015)
On behalf of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, we note with sadness the loss of Joseph Barnicke.
Joe Barnicke with President Naylor and Chancellor Peterson receiving a University of Toronto Arbor award in 2009