Penelope Stewart is an artist working across the varied media of sculpture, photography, video, works on paper and architectural installations/interventions. Central to her practice is an engagement with space and place; its architecture, objects, history, politics, ideology and environment. Recently these interventions have explored the beehive metaphor in architecture, with connections between the symbolic, political and artistic spin-offs of the beehive, an eco-morphology that contemplates the hive, hive culture, desire and loss as metaphor for our utopian aspirations to return to the garden.
Stewart was born in Montréal, Québec. She received a BFA from York University, Toronto and an MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Stewart is the recipient of numerous grants and awards from the Toronto, Ontario and Canada Arts Council’s and also Open Studio’s Nick Novak Fellowship. Her large scale photographs received First Prize at Photo-Op, Toronto, and at the prestigious Centre for the Perceptual Arts, (CEPA), New York. In 2010 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (RCA).
Her work has been exhibited since 1990 with key solo exhibitions in Canada, Australia, France, Czech Republic and the US including such notable institutions as The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo New York; Musée d’Art de Joliette, Québec; Ganna Walska Lotusland, Montecito, California; Musée Barthétè, Boussan, France; Koffler Gallery, Toronto; Oakville Galleries, Ontario; Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Ontario; The Military Museums, Alberta; ACT Design Museum Canberra, Australia; Poimena Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
Anthologies such as Utopic Impulses feature Stewart’s work in an essay by Amy Gogarty; Craftwork as Problem Solving: Ethnographic Studies of Design and Making in an essay by Jenn Law; and Encaustic Works with an essay by Michele Stuart. CRAM International (2012) launched Haptic Exchanges, a bilingual catalogue which maps Stewart’s large beeswax sensory architectures with essays by Suzanne Danis, Musée Barthétè, Heather Pesanti, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Marnie Fleming, Oakville Galleries. In 2014 CRAM International, The Tree Museum and Lotusland co-published Chasing Daphne an extensive catalogue chronicling her Artist in Residence experience at Ganna Walska Lotusland, with an interview by Anne O’Callaghan and an essay by Jenn Law. Also in the summer of 2014 the Koffler Gallery, Toronto hosted a major beeswax intervention Vanitas accompanied by an elaborate brochure with text by Jenn Law. Other publications and reviews of Stewart’s projects are found in books, newspapers and periodicals such as The Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Canadian Architect, Canadian Art, Espace, Ceramic Review and World Art.
Upcoming projects and exhibitions include a yearlong project entitled Cleave …a walk in the wilderness, which comprises a solo exhibition of beeswax sculptures, photographs and video at Warren C. Flowers Gallery, a portfolio of prints and an outdoor installation at the Peace Garden, all at Dawson College, Montréal and in 2017 Stewart will be Artist in Residence at the Medalta Museum in Medicine Hat, Alberta.