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Honorary degree citation - Barbara Steinman

By: François Morelli, October 2015

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Barbara Steinman, a prolific Montreal-based artist whose multidisciplinary works have found homes in galleries, museums and public spaces around the world. Native de Montréal, Madame Steinman est une des grandes forces innovantes à l’origine des pratiques installatives en arts médiatiques.  

Profiting from Montreal’s dynamic cultural milieu, Ms. Steinman’s works touch fundamental human issues. Her  themes  have included boundaries and their, mutability, as well as collective and personal memory. Capturing the essence of these often probing questions through an aesthetic characterized by a disturbing elegance, her work has never ceased to renew itself .

Since the late 1970s, Ms. Steinman’s primarily time based practice has used mediums that include video, photography and sculptural installations to create complex social and psychological spaces.

A McGill graduate, she is particularly well-regarded for her pioneering use of video. These early videotapes quickly evolved into elaborate video and multimedia installations.

Barbara Steinman’s artworks have been shown in exhibitions in Canada and internationally, including the biennials of Seoul, Sydney, Sao Paulo and Aperto in Venice, as well as exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Tate Liverpool in England, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada. Her public art projects, have received widespread recognition, including the award for Design Excellence for an outdoor public artwork in Vancouver (1998), a commissioned work for the new Canadian Embassy in Berlin (2005), and the design of a feature artwork for the new Canadian Embassy in Moscow (2010).

Through the widespread acclaim Ms. Steinman has garnered over the decades, she represents the elevated calibre and sophistication of Canadian art. She directed innovative artist-run centres in Montreal in the 80s such as “Vidéo Véhicule” dedicated to independent media production and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, a feminist art centre. These activities connected a variety of alternative artists and by doing so nurtured creativity, participation and collaboration.

Being a sustained contributor to Montreal’s artistic scene, it is of little surprise that Ms. Steinman’s path led her to collaborate with Concordia University. Ms. Steinman was invited to work with the Master Printer Program at our university in  2003 where she created a bookwork entitled “Traces in Red”. This work was exhibited in Ces artistes qui impriment – L’estampe au Québec depuis 1980 at La Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal.

For her fearlessness and pioneering use of new media, to both national and international effect, Ms. Steinman was a recipient of a Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts in 2002. Her professional collaborations have led her over the years to work with leading galleries such as Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto since 1994; Galerie Françoise Paviot in Paris since 2005; Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran in Montréal since 2013 and most recently with MA2 Gallery in Tokyo, for her first solo exhibition there in 2015.

Mr. President and Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Ms. Steinman so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

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