Cathy Daley works primarily in the medium of drawing exclusively with black pastel on vellum, and draws on persistent cultural images inspired by ballerina tutus, fairy-tale princesses and doll couture. Cathy Daley’s drawings mine contemporary vocabularies of glamour, fashion, pop culture and the female body.
Drawing on persistent cultural images inspired by ballerina tutus, the garb of fairy-tale princesses and Barbie doll couture, Cathy Daley’s work investigates childhood memories of what it means to be female in Western culture and explores cultural representation of the feminine and the body. The drawings mine contemporary vocabularies of glamour, fashion, popular culture, cartoons, street signage, Hollywood cinema, fairy tales, and mythology, to examine the iconography of the feminine as it exists in the cultural imaginary, personal memory, and fantasy.
Born in 1955, Toronto, Ontario, Cathy Daley received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art in 1975. Her drawings have been widely exhibited across North America and Europe. Much has been written about Daley’s work including recent reviews in Canadian Art, Globe & Mail, Border-Crossings and Art in America.
Cathy Daley is a recipient of numerous awards and grants. Her artworks can be found in collections all over the world, including the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Kelowna Art Gallery, Tom Thomson Art Gallery, amongst others.
Drawing from the world of high fashion, Daley’s work made with black oil pastel on white vellum is a contemporary exploration of both body politics and culturally accepted images of femininity. These iconic drawings often point to the formulas behind many stereotypes, which are built on unrealistic ideals of perfection and cultural caricatures.
Of her artwork Roni Feinstein from Art in America writes:
“These drawings 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. But irony in Daley’s cultural criticism is the source of much of the drawing’s wit. While recognizing the limitations imposed by old ideals, she also acknowledges their grace and appeal and expresses a certain nostalgia and yearning.”