Doris Slater Titus: Retrospective, 1941 – 1964

27 March to 23 May, 2021
Glenhyrst Art Gallery


Doris Slater Titus, Untitled (Abstract) (circa 1959), mixed media on board.

This exhibition features the work of artist and educator Doris Slater Titus, and marks the first solo exhibition of her work in nearly 60 years. It features Titus’s comic book illustrations, commercial designs, mural samples, and over twenty-five paintings and drawings from private and public collections across Canada and England. During her short life, Titus was often subjected to sexism and discrimination that overshadowed her artistic accomplishments. Today, she is recognized as the first woman comic book artist in Canada and for her experiments with abstract painting, such as using her own bathwater as a medium. These unique paintings demonstrate Titus’s passion for colour, understanding of composition, and enthusiasm for changing styles. Less is known about the murals she painted, based on folk tales and nursery rhymes, for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, which are now believed to be destroyed. For these and other reasons, Doris Slater Titus has made a significant contribution to the cultural history of Canada.

Doris Mildred Titus (nee Slater) was born outside Chatham, Ontario in 1917. She attended the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) on scholarship and focused on commercial art, later graduating in 1939. In 1941, she began illustrating comic books for Anglo-American Publications. The drawings for her first comic, “Penny’s Diary,” made her the first woman comic book artist in Canada. In 1954, Titus moved to Brantford, Ontario and was hired as an art teacher at Brantford Collegiate Institute. During this time, she founded the Sketch Club at Glenhyrst Gardens (now Glenhyrst Art Gallery), participated in exhibitions, and befriended artist Toni Onley. Her experiments with abstract painting led to the use of unconventional mediums like her own bathwater. Titus left Brantford for Ottawa in 1960 to teach at the Ottawa High School of Commerce. Tragically, she died in an automobile accident in June, 1964 at the age of 47. For her contributions to the Canadian comic book industry, she was inducted into the Shuster Awards Hall of Fame for Canadian comic book creators in 2015. Her work resides in several private collections in Canada and England, and in the permanent collection of Glenhyrst Art Gallery.

Glenhyrst Art Gallery acknowledges that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabeg, and Haudenosaunee Peoples. Brantford is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, which includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.

Glenhyrst Art Gallery thanks Patti Thomas, daughter of Doris Slater Titus, for her assistance and support in bringing this exhibition to fruition.

Glenhyrst Art Gallery is fully accessible and includes an elevator and accessible washroom. The main entrance is accessed by a concrete pathway and may be opened with an automatic door opener. For assistance or questions about the gallery, please call us. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

For more information, please contact:
Glenhyrst Art Gallery
20 Ava Rd., Brantford ON
N3T 5G9 (519) 756-5932