Lois Schklar: I Am Here



Group of Rattles by Lois Schklar. Photo taken by Peter Legris.

Lois Schklar

October 20 to November 13, 2021

The Red Head Gallery presents I Am Here, an exhibition by Lois Schklar.

Doris Lessing’s novel, The Summer Before the Dark, is about an aging woman who faces psychological and physical changes in her life. In a pivotal scene, the protagonist visits a busy restaurant. She realizes to her dismay that her age and sex have made her feel invisible. She wants to shout “Look, I’m here, can’t you see me?”1 It was 1999. I was in my early 50’s. I thought that I was disappearing.

Rattles have become a symbol for creative and personal reflection on life’s transitions. Like a rite of passage, they announce “I Am Here.” It is this affirmation that continues to intrigue, challenge and support me in my work and life.

For over thirty years I made dolls as objects of power that celebrated vulnerability as strength, not weakness. In 1999, dolls became a conduit for my thoughts and feelings around the issues of aging. I began constructing dolls from the inside out or made them into hollow shells filled with pebbles, trinkets or tiny glass beads hidden beneath their wax like skin. This work became the basis of an ongoing exploration of rattles as part of my practice.

On Becoming (2003), a series of rattles, was a narrative about transition, growth and acceptance. Each Hybrid was part human/part dinosaur representing the beginning of Life, pregnant with possibilities and the inevitability of Death and Extinction. “Learning to Crawl”, “Learning to Scream”, “Learning to Feel and to Defend”, “Learning to Fly” and “Death Rides a Stag” were a few of the characters in this parade of life.


Images: Still Life Rattle 4 (left), Rattle 26 (center), Still Life Rattle 7 (right). Photo taken by Peter Legris.

The rattles in I Am Here (2021) are, like their predecessors, constructed of materials collected over a lifetime. Pill bottles, recycled bits and pieces from previous work, saved packaging and water worn bricks are repurposed but not disguised. The elements used to construct each rattle are documents of their history and presence in the life of the artist.

I Am Here, my current exhibition at the Red Head Gallery, is a departure from recent drawing installations and interactive prototypes. The declaration seems an appropriate celebration as I celebrate my 76th year.

1. The Summer Before the Dark, Doris Lessing. 1973


Lois Schklar’s work has been shown in exhibitions throughout Canada and the United States. Sculptures from her laminated burlap series, Collective Memories are in the Racine Art Museum, the Bronfman Collection, Claridge Investments, Idea Exchange Art Gallery and The Key Corporation.

Schklar has received grants from the Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council. In 2013, she was awarded an OAC Multi/Integrated Arts Project Grant for Collected Memories, an installation with a professional dancer, musician and lighting designer. Prototypes (2019), an exploration of sound, narrative, light and audience participation, was made possible through the Canada Council’s Explore and Create Grant (2018) and the Ontario Arts Council’s Exhibition Assistance Grant (2019).

Schklar’s Timelines, was selected for a Juror’s award at DesignTO (2019). Timelines 2 and Lies My Teacher Told Me were accepted into the prestigious Cambridge Art Galleries Fibreworks (2018 and 2020 respectively). Timelines 3 (2018) was shown in Excellence in Fibers at the San Jose Museum, California. In 2021, Schklar was chosen from over 500 applications to create artwork for a room in the newly renovated Gladstone House, Toronto.

Currently, Lois is a member of Red Head Gallery.

Schklar would like to acknowledge the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grant for I Am Here.


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