Toronto-based artist Barbara Astman was born in Rochester, New York, in 1950. After studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology, she came to Canada in 1970, during the Vietnam War. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1973 and has been exhibiting her photo-based works in galleries across Canada and abroad since 1975.
Her pioneering work in photography, with its strong feminist underpinnings, has attracted international attention. She has had solo exhibitions at venues such as The Koffler Gallery, Corkin/Shopland Gallery, the Yukon Arts Centre, the Art Gallery of Windsor, The Art Gallery of Peterborough, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, and Sable-Castelli Gallery, among others. In 1995, Astman’s work was the subject of a retrospective exhibition. Organized by the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Barbara Astman: Personal/Persona, a 20-year survey, also made stops at the Kitchener/Waterloo Art Gallery and the Edmonton Art Gallery.
Astman’s work has also been included in hundreds of group exhibitions, including Les Revenants, curated by Martha Langfod for Montreal’s Le Mois de la Photo, Impulse Archeology (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art), Identities: Canadian Portraits (McMichael Canadian Art Collection), Taking on Colour (Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography), Women of Substance: Images from the Collection (Art Gallery of Hamilton), and Click at the AGNS. Astman’s work has also been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, the Kamloops Art Gallery, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and at the Art Gallery of Ontario, among others. Internationally, Astman’s work has been seen at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, France, and Galleria Luca Polazzoli in Milan, Italy.
Barbara Astman’s work is included in a number of important public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, International Museum of Photography: George Eastman House, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England. Astman has also produced numerous public commissions, most recently in 2005, for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin and the New Loblaws Headquarters in Brampton, Ontario.
Barbara Astman began teaching at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto in 1975, where she continues to teach. She was named a full professor in 2002. She was also faculty at York University from 1978-1980, and again in 1986. Her relevant community endeavours include sitting on the Board of Directors at the Art Gallery at Harbourfront, Toronto (1983-1985), appointed member of the City of Toronto Public Art Commission (1986-1989), Chair of the Toronto Arts Awards, Visual Arts Jury (1988) and Board of Directors, Arts Foundation of Greater Toronto (1989-1992).
Image: Barbara Astman, Untitled, (self portrait), c. 1973