Lisa Steele

"I wanted a person to be able to come upon a video like they would a bronze statue. No one demands the viewer sit down, there isn't the commitment of settling down in a dark room. They can see as much as they like – and get the basic gestalt – then move on."

- Lisa Steele, 1999

Internationally acclaimed artist Lisa Steele has been producing works in video, performance, installation and photo-text for three decades. Since 1983, she has worked exclusively in collaboration with Kim Tomczak. Creating images of the body, often diseased or aging, Steele and Tomczak examine themes of fear, faith and love, as well as the power of society over individual freedom.

Steele studied English, Drama and Art at the University of Missouri. She moved to Toronto in 1968 and worked in various jobs, including modeling in art schools. Longtime experience counseling abused women influenced her early video work, which illustrated women's scarred bodies and visible self-doubt. Steele's early solo work includes Birthday Suit: Scars and Defects and Gloria. With Kim Tomczak, she created See Evil, and more recently, Blood Records, written and annotated.

Steele taught for many years at the Ontario College of Art & Design, before moving to the University of Toronto’s Fine Art department. She is co-founder and creative director of V tape, a video arts resource and distribution centre. A social activist, writer and editor, Steele is active in the Indigenous arts community. She is a recipient of the YWCA Woman of Distinction Achievement Award and the “Long Haul” Untitled Art Award. In addition, Steele and Tomczak have been honoured with a Governor General’s Award, the Bell Canada Award and the Toronto Arts Award.

Photo: Martin Lipman