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In Community Memory- Cathy Daley


Click here to share your special memories, teaching moments and testimonies of your friendship with Cathy Daley

OCAD U mourns the passing of Cathy Daley

Notable Canadian artist, beloved mentor and OCAD University Professor Emerita Cathy Daley has passed away.   

In a message sent to the community on March 7, Stephen Foster, Dean of the Faculty of Art, extended his sincere condolences to Daley’s family and friends, and to all those in the community who had the pleasure of learning from her.  

“During her time at OCAD U, Cathy Daley was a tireless contributor to the Drawing and Painting program. In 1989, she created one of the earliest versions of our course, Issues of Representation. She was a sought-after instructor for her expertise in figuration, expression and experimentation,” wrote Dean Foster.


Over her 40-year career, Daley developed a unique body of work that was whimsical, dark, vivacious and empowering. She possessed an enduring preoccupation with the female form, which she mixed with considerations of popular culture and high fashion. She was best known for her monochrome drawings of semi-abstract female figures in motion, clothed in billowing black dresses, tutus and high heels.  

Daley received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art (OCA) in 1975 and began teaching at the University in 1988. She never missed a day in her studio and continued to make art even after falling ill.


 Working predominantly with black pastel and charcoal on translucent vellum, Daley explored how women are represented through images and language in Western culture. She was also interested in the female body’s relationship to private and public space. 

“I was a student in one of Cathy's very first drawing classes in the late 1980s. Her class was impactful. She introduced me to many artists working in drawing that I did not hear about in my other classes. She opened my eyes to new ways of working,” remembers Adrienne Reynolds, a graduate of OCA, a practicing visual artist and an English for Art and Design Specialist in the Writing and Learning Centre at OCAD U. 

In the early 1990s, Daley gained attention with two related bodies of work for which she became known, a series of life-sized reclining nudes, executed in rich, solid black silhouettes and a group of small, melancholic paintings depicting women dressing and undressing in muted interiors. 

More about Cathy Daley

Cathy Daley was born in Toronto in 1955. In the 1970s she studied at the OCA as well as at Arts’ Sake Inc., an independent art school founded by eight OCA faculty members in 1977.  

Throughout her career she experimented with a range of media and techniques including abstraction, animation, sculpture, ceramics, collage, installation and digital painting. Apart from her work as a visual artist, in the 1990s she also designed sets and props for Toronto-based theatre productions. 

She taught at OCAD University until 2020, when she became Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Art. As an artist and educator she was an inspiration to generations of emerging artists. She was also involved in developing a number of new courses at OCAD U that incorporated feminist perspectives. 

Since 1980, Cathy Daley's works have been exhibited in galleries across the country including Oakville Galleries, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Kelowna Art Gallery and Southern Alberta Gallery as well as internationally at the Museum Dhondt Dhaenens in Belgium and Galerie Den Haag in the Netherlands. 

Most notably, her works are in the collections of The National Gallery of Canada and The Art Gallery of Ontario as well as many other public institutions and private collections. 

In honour of her passing, Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art in Calgary, Ontario has mounted an exhibition of her works. Newzones has been exhibiting Daley’s work for over thirty years.

Photo Source:


OCAD University

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