Agatha (Gathie) Falk

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Agatha (Gathie) Falk

1928 -

Gathie Falk is a prominent West Coast painter, sculptor, printmaker and performance artist whose works are in major museums across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada. Born in 1928 in Alexander, Manitoba into a Mennonite family, Falk spent her early life in Manitoba until her family moved to Vancouver in 1947. Falk studied education at the University of British Columbia in the 1950s, and spent 12 years working as a school teacher. During this time, she began formal art training at the University of British Columbia summer classes under Jock MacDonald. In 1965, she ceased teaching and launched her career as an artist.

The idea of collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach were part of the Vancouver community in the 1960s. During this time Falk created performance art pieces in which she acted assisted by friends. Images and actions were drawn from the everyday, but had a surreal or dreamlike quality. In this same decade, she produced ceramic sculpture based on everyday objects such as shoes and fruit, and often used repetition of form - such as ruby red ceramic apples carefully piled in a pyramid or bright orange ceramic shoes displayed in a cabinet. She also produced installation works, such as Home Environment, a room containing altered furniture and clay objects.

Falk's ceramic work continued to evolve into the 1970s, with works such as her Picnic series of still life tableaus. Also in this decade after a pivotal trip to Venice in 1977, she plunged into painting on canvas, pulling her subjects from her surroundings such as her garden. Beginning in 1979, she worked on the extraordinary series of large-scale paintings entitled Night Skies.

Falk has continued to paint in series, bringing great awareness to bear on the everyday objects that are often part of her work, sometimes with elements of whimsy. In recent years she has worked three-dimensionally in painted papier mâché and bronze with subjects such as men's shirts, women's dresses and canoes.

Her list of exhibitions is extensive, and includes a retrospective exhibition in 1985 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Another retrospective originated at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2000, touring across Canada and ending at the National Gallery of Canada.