Colette Whiten | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Colette Whiten

Colette Whiten, sculptor (b at Birmingham, Eng 7 Feb 1945).

Whiten, Colette

Colette Whiten, sculptor (b at Birmingham, Eng 7 Feb 1945). In 1972 she graduated from the Ontario College of Art, was a recipient of the Governor General's Medal, and exhibited her first cast piece, a wooden structure filled with fibreglass molds of her friends' arms and legs, documented by photographs and slides to record the creative process. Her figures are concerned with the nature of human existence, with human interaction (particularly power relationships) and with the process of art.

In 1975 her focus shifted to an intimate exploration of the nature of identity and the duality inherent in the cast image. In 1986, Whiten reassessed the nature of the art object and of art making and turned in her investigations of power - in this case images of political power and everyday violence - to a series of small-scale, meticulously stitched works, often presented within sculptural installations. Since 1992, Whiten has continued her exploration with a series of larger works, all of them intricately constructed by hand using glass beads and a variety of other media. The life-size Vows Vengeance, an examination of the impact of the media on our understanding of current events, took 3 years to complete.

Whiten's sculpture commissions include a wall construction with figurative cutouts for the Mental Health Centre, Toronto (1978); the award-winning sculpture for the 1988 Calgary Olympics, The TransCanada Pipeline Arch (in collaboration with A.J. Diamond and Partner, Architects); Weathervanes for Bankers Hall, Calgary, Alberta (1990-91); and Tender, at the Worker's Compensation Office, Simcoe Place, Toronto (1994-95.) Both Weathervanes and Tender were collaborations with Paul Kipps.

Whiten exhibits regularly in Toronto, Montréal and Barcelona and her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Brazil, Europe, the US and across Canada. She taught at York University from 1975 to 1977 and has taught at the Ontario College of Art since 1974. In 1991 Whiten was the recipient of the Toronto Arts Foundation's Visual Arts Award and in 2013, she was awarded a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.