Barbara Klunder

Barbara Klunder was born in Toronto in 1948 and grew up in an artistic household, which was her basic education, and attended Ontario College of Art 1965-66.

She started doing illustration at the age of 17 (for the Globe and Mail) and continued as a freelance illustrator/designer until recently, winning many awards over the years and designing two fonts. At the age of 28 she started designing hand-knit sweaters and had a huge success with them in New York, launched with the help of Vogue Magazine. Both the sweaters and the next project, rug designs, used her skills as an illustrator and designer as much as discovering the possibilities of textile and fibre. A show in 1991 at the Textile Musem of Canada of 14 very large hand-hooked rugs from makers around the world was launched with the theme of the environment, a cause Barbara has always supported. "Tapestries for the Environment"

Gradually her interests grew into making conceptual pieces that had 'commentary' built into them. "27 Downsized Purses" was a collection (that eventually became a solo show at the Canadian Craft Museum in 1996) of small purses made out of all kinds of materials from nature (birchbark, pine cones,wood) to embroidery, knitting, rug hooking, as well as including hardware and graffiti.

Then she created 'Hooked Paintings' using textiles, with the rug-hooking technique, using thousands of stripped pieces taken from all kinds of clothing, from T-shirts to ballgowns. The subject matter was 'Music', which is a big theme in her graphic work over the years, having done the posters for both Vancouver and Toronto Jazz Festivals for twelve years, among other musical event posters. This was a show at Prime Gallery, Toronto, in 1998.

The two latest painting shows at Prime Gallery have been dealing with a combination of Nature and Symbols. The 2004 show at was working with symbols from historical, mythological, and religious imagery, super-imposed on natural objects and scenes.

The "String Theory" show will have both carpets, tapestries and sweaters from the past and the present. Subject matter ranges from the science world ('Atom and Eve') to the spiritual ('Half Human') to the environmental world ('Jaguar Gone'). The new sweaters have 'architectural' concerns, rather than illustrative, but, as always, entranced with colour.

Barbara has lived on Toronto Island for the past 20 years, but now finds herself in downtown Toronto.

She has been teaching Drawing and Painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the past few years, and is asked annually to lecture at many Art colleges and Craft Guilds in the Toronto region.

She is also asked to be on many juries, from National Magazine Awards to contemporary Art competitions.

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Quote from Robin Laurence (from "27 Downsized Purses", catalogue, 1998):
"Between great joy in creation and furious grief at the injustices of our age, BK has found ways and places for personal expression, a conceptual versatility to shape and combine any number of mediums to communicate her beliefs."