My work draws on a wide variety of references including historical quilts, children’s drawings, poetry, casual conversation, as well as contemporary art theory and practice. I try with each new work to mingle the pleasures and anxieties of mundane dayliness with larger themes: working at the threshold between silence and speech, presence and absence, concrete and immaterial. Whether a tiny, graphite drawing of pebbles on vellum, or a heavy, dark, woolen quilted cover with appliqué missiles, a sensual grounding in and repetitive working of materials has shaped my creative process consistently over two decades.
Barbara Todd is an interdisciplinary, mid-career artist best known for innovative, quilted textile works in which she marries a minimalist aesthetic to a poetic and politicized sensibility. Her work is represented in museum and private collections, and in large-scale public commissions in Canada and the U.S. Born in Galt, Ontario, Todd studied fine art and art history at the University of Guelph where she received her BA in 1975. In 1981, she moved to Banff, Alberta, where she lived and worked at the Banff Centre for the Arts for the next decade. Todd’s early exhibitions, which included several photographic installations, and a series of drawings and cut-out silhouettes, were playful explorations of cultural identity as reflected in men and women’s clothing. Her “Security Blanket” and “Coffin Quilt series, begun in Banff, have been exhibited widely. Most notably, Barbara Todd : Security Blankets , organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in 1992, toured Canada for three years. In 1993 Todd moved to Montreal; the following year, she began a series of dramatic, black-on-blue quilts based on dreams, poetry and children’s drawings which culminated in the acclaimed installation A Bed is a Boat . shown at Galerie Oboro, Montreal (1996), the Library and Gallery, Cambridge (1997) and the Museum for Textiles. Toronto (1998).
In recent years, she has expanded her practice to include drawings and sculptures in metal and glass, which evoke elusive psychological and spiritual states. Recent installations include Heaven and Earth , at the Visual Arts Centre, (2000), du ciel at ArtMûr (2002) and “Bloom” in the exhibition Celan at Galerie Dazibao (2004), (all in Montreal). Todd presently divides her time between Montreal, where she teaches at Concordia University, and Troy, New York.