Our next Artist You Need To Know is someone who is known for her work as a photographer, performance artist and video producer. Using a range of media, Suzy Lake’s artworks intersects with topics including identity, beauty, gender and aging. She is a pioneering feminist artist and political activism has frequently shaped her artwork. Lake is an American-Canadian artist based in Toronto, Canada, who is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2016). and the Scotiabank Photography Award.
Erin Silver, in an excellent article written for the Art Canada Institute offers the following about Lake’s importance: “Decades before “the selfie” sparked a cultural revolution, Suzy Lake changed the course of art history by making herself the subject of her pictures and using her camera as a tool to investigate how we manufacture images of identity. Incorporating elements of theatre, performance, and role-play, Lake blended technology and art to create compelling works so ahead of their time it took the art world nearly two decades to catch up. Today she is recognized as one of the world’s most important photo-based practitioners and a significant influence on a new generation of artists that perform in front of the camera.” American artist Cindy Sherman has cited Lake’s photo-performance as an influence on her own work.
Lake’s art can be found in a variety of collections, including the Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, Glenbow Art Gallery, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Museum Lodz, Poland, Art Gallery of Ontario, and Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, New York. She’s been a significant artist in a number of historic feminist exhibitions such as: WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution 1965-1980, a touring exhibition by Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (2007-08); Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake – 1972-1978 (Santa Monica Museum of Art, 2007) and The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970’s. Several images we’ve included here are from her solo exhibition Introducing Suzy Lake, which was at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2014.
Suzy Lake’s site offers an extensive overview of her practice, as well as more information about the ideas that inform her aesthetic and that have shaped her impressively expansive career that stretches back over half a century. The previously cited text Suzy Lake: Like & Work by Erin Silver can be downloaded here from the Art Canada Institute. Right now, Lake is one of the featured artists in the 2021 Toronto Outdoor Art Fair’s 60 Over 60, which you can learn more about here.