Anthropomorphic Mother

with Shary Boyle



02 | Over The Wire

series curated by Charles Stankievech


Instructions from Shary Boyle

Only by taking risks can we learn how to communicate. As an artist I ask myself to be honest, consider things I might find embarrassing, and create work that in its vulnerability reaches out to include others in the questioning. I chose the subject of “mother” because it is essential, universal, but extremely personal. It is a relationship that is at the core of each person no matter what culture, age or gender, whether their mother is involved with their life, alive or deceased. Mothers are at once generic and totally specific. As a result, how much of what we think about our mother is objective, and how much is subjective?

For this project, create a sculptural (3D) portrait of your/a mother as an object, plant or animal.

You should consider how objects/animals can symbolize aspects of character, emotion, and conceal or reveal attitudes towards the subject. Reflect on whether you are trying to create an observational portrait of your mother’s character, or how she makes you feel?

This is an exercise in metaphoric portraiture and creating a personal “image-language”. How can the artist express the non-verbal through symbols, shapes and materials? Choice of materials, textures, colours and scale must be considered as thoroughly as your concept/image. Traditional or unconventional materials, found or bought, gathered or processed- all of these decisions should relate to what you are trying to express.

After the exhibition, sculptures are to be photographed and compiled into a bookwork.

Finally, as a group burn the sculptures.


Students in the exhibition:



Shary Boyle graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1994. The only artist in a suburban, working class family, Boyle mined her early memories and experiences of female “otherness” to imagine fantastical alternatives to the limitations of conventions. Her practice includes drawing, paining, sculpture, and performance.

In 1999, Boyle created a form of audio-visual performance she describes as a “live-drawing projected light snow.” Her hand-animated projections have since shared stages with musicians Peaches, Gordon B. Isnor, Fiest, Es, Jens Leman, Christine Fellows, Doug Paisley, and Will Oldham.

Boyle work has been published in Random House, Conundrum Press, Buenaventura Press, Francis Ford Coppola’s Zeotrope: All-Story, Furnish, and The Believer magazine.

Her work has been exhibited internationally and acquired by the National Gallery of Canada, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation and the Paisley Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland. She is represented by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto.