Barbara Todd is an interdisciplinary artist best known for her innovative quilted-textile works. She marries a minimalist aesthetic to a poetic and politicized sensibility. Her work is featured in museums, private collections and public commission spaces, in Canada and the U.S. more
Born in Galt, Ontario, Todd studied fine art and art history at the University of Guelph. 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 included several photographic installations, using clothing and gesture as subject. Inside/Outside includes 350 snapshot portraits of an entire community, organized by predominant body gesture and exhibited at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff. This show was followed by Camouflage and Wall Street. A series of drawings and painted plywood dress shapes was exhibited at Stride Gallery in Calgary, alongside Todd’s first quilt, ”Cover/Undercover.”
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, and toured Canada for three years.
In 1993, Todd moved to Montreal where she began a series of dramatic black-on-blue quilts based on dreams, poetry and children's drawings. This work culminated in the installation A Bed is a Boat shown at Oboro, Montreal (1996); the Library and Gallery, Cambridge (Ontario)(1997); and the Museum for Textiles, Toronto (1998).
Todd’s drawings include cutout shapes in steel and wood, as well as layered works using the translucency of vellum and sand blasted glass. Exhibitions of these works include Heaven and Earth, at the Visual Arts Centre, (2000), du ciel at Art Mûr (2002) and Bloom in the exhibition Celan at Galerie Dazibao (2004), all in Montreal.
In 2005, Todd began the digital commonplace book “Stone Days,” translating fragments of text drawn from everyday interactions into drawings created by arranging seaside pebbles. This work continued in the form of drawings, wall-relief works and quilted textiles. Selections from this work have been shown in numerous venues, including Barbara Todd: Teaching a Stone to Talk at the Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound, Ontario, 2012.
Since 2000, Todd has created numerous public and private commissions. Her acclaimed Jardin de guérison (Healing Garden), 2008, is a 34-metres long public artwork incorporating light, color, and glass, produced for Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal. She has also produced permanent public artworks for the Jewish Community Centre, the Gouin Courthouse and the Chateauguay Nursing Home, all in Montreal.
Todd divides her time between Troy, New York, where she teaches weaving at Emma Willard School, and Montreal where she teaches Fibre Structures in the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University.