Cathy Daley


“These drawings constitute a virtuoso performance... [and] reflect a contemporary post-feminist ambivalence toward fashion, critiquing the garment industry’s wrapped-and-bound feminine ideal and the notion of woman as spectacle.” - Roni Feinstein, Art in America

Cathy Daley is a Toronto-based artist who mines contemporary vocabularies of glamour, fashion, popular culture, to examine the iconography of femininity as it exists in cultural imaginary, personal memory, and fantasy.  Building on persistent cultural images inspired by ballerina tutus, the garb of fairy-tale princesses and Barbie doll couture, her large scale pastel-on-velum drawings investigate childhood memories of what it means to be female in Western culture and explores cultural representation of the feminine and the body. She often incorporates the iconography of cartoons, street signage, Hollywood cinema, fairy tales, and mythology into her work

This is the west coast debut of Daley’s new drawings on vellum. In this body of work, entitled, the Little Black Dress drawing series, Daley works primarily in the medium black pastel on translucent vellum. This medium, with its potential for overwriting, offers the possibility of a spontaneous and direct working process.  Daley uses black pastel for its depth and wide range of tonality.  The drawings often have an almost sculptural presence as a sense of volume is produced. Black pastel is also used because it is an elemental drawing material. Recently she has begun to incorporate collage elements culled from fashion magazines, combining mechanical reproductions with hand drawn gestures. Some of the new work has incorporated color to explore visceral references to the body as well as its coverings.

The artist’s work has featured at Birch Libralato,Toronto and is held in museum collections including the National Gallery of Canada; Art Gallery of Ontario; The Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal; Ontario College of Art of Design; University of Toronto, University of Toronto Art Centre; Albright College; University of Pennsylvania;  Swedish Foundation, Seattle, Washington; among others.


Daley’s work is being show concurrently with the exhibition at ECAA entitled, Glam: Exploring Constructions of Fashion, Glamour, and Femininity through Photography.