Our next Artist You Need To Know is someone who left us very recently: Cathy Daley (1955 – 2022) was a Canadian visual artist and educator who was born and lived in Toronto. She had a definitive hand in shaping the visual arts community in Toronto, but also in many other places.

In her own words : ‘My work reflects my complex, ambiguous and critical relationship toward the representation of women in Western culture. Drawing on persistent cultural images, my work investigates childhood memories, as well as contemporary imagery to explore Western culture’s representation of the feminine and the body. The drawings mine 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.’



Cathy Daley was an associate professor at OCAD University in the Faculty of Art, specifically in the area of painting and drawing; she began teaching there in 1988. Prior to her passing she was honoured as a Professor Emerita at OCAD. She had earned a BFA from its predecessor, the Ontario College of Art (OCA, 1974) and also studied at the Art’s Sake Inc (1979–80).

She is known for several recognizable and enthralling bodies of works; her Little Black Dress series (2001), Power Dressing Fashion series (2003), and Dance series (2009). Many of these were massive works, with the gestures and marks taking on a physical nature, and challenging, if not overwhelming, the viewer, with their powerful aesthetic sense. “I use 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. I also use black pastel because it is an elemental drawing material.” (from Daley’s artist statement)


Daley’s exhibition record is impressive, even as her career was cut tragically short with her passing at the age of 66. Public galleries, artist run centres and commercial galleries have all featured her work. Notable exhibitions have been mounted at The Power Plant, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, The Saidye Bronfman Centre, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, the University of Toronto Art Centre, Mercer Union and Museum Dhondt Dhaenens in Belgium.

Many collections hold her work: The National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada Council Art Bank, Kenderdine / College Art Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, Art Gallery of Peterborough, MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, MacLaren Art Centre, Art Gallery of Kelowna, and the Tom Thomson Art Gallery (Owen Sound, ON), but her art is in many other public institutions and private collections, as well. Daley has been awarded numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council and the Bertolt Brecht Fund of Berlin. A more detailed list of exhibitions and collections can be found here.



‘It’s a record of what took place. It feels more alive that way, with the evidence of process. I work at a drawing and then rework it. The large drawings I do on the floor so I can move around. It’s a very physical process, being immersed in the work.’ (from the National Gallery) Later in her career, she began to work with digital tools, and many of these works can be seen here.


Cathy Daley was a strong and ongoing presence in the Toronto and larger Canadian visual arts community for more than four decades, as an artist and an educator, both in formal and more personal spaces. Much more of her work can be seen here, at her site, and a fine remembrance of Daley’s life and work can be read here.