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Barbara Astman

  • Sandblasted glass with a metal base
  • 1995
  • 5 freestanding panels measuring 152.5 x 122cm
  • 200 Front Street West, Simcoe Park, Toronto

About the artwork

Located on the main floor of Simcoe Place is Barbara Astman’s piece, Tribute. Consisting of five sandblasted glass panels, lined up in a row, the scenes that are shown depend on the viewer’s physical position. On one side of the panel, text appears, and on the other, photographic images depict the actual construction process of the building. In showcasing the efforts it took to erect Simcoe Place, through both written and visual form, Astman pays respect to all of the skilled workers who were involved.

About the artist

Barbara Astman, a self-proclaimed feminist artist, specializes in a hybrid of photography and new media, often using her own body as object and subject. Merging art and technology is a major focus of her practice, resulting in images of remarkable colour, texture, and scale. Through her art, Astman hopes to define new ways of seeing. Apart from showing her work extensively in both solo and group exhibitions across North America, Astman has also completed commissions for public art installations in Canada and abroad, including travelling murals and inlaid flooring that were displayed at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1987. More recently, she has created a large stained glass program, consisting of 217 windows with photo-based imagery, for the Murano Condominiums on Bay Street. In 2000, Astman was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy and in 2001, she became a professor at her alma mater, the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University) where she continues to teach. An active member of the her local arts community, Astman is currently the Chair of Koffler Gallery’s Art Advisory Committee and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto.

Fun facts

  • Barbara Astman was once so inspired by retail stores that she even created her own as an art work. Dancing with Che: Enter Through the Gift Shop (2011-2013) was a space designed to imitate a shop in which all of the objects, including mugs, plates, and other novelty goods, were painted with Che Guevara's face and never meant to be sold.
  • Canadian rock band, Loverboy, commissioned Astman to create the cover for their debut album.

Engagement questions

  • Do you believe it is crucial for artists to engage in a dialogue with the public?