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Photo by Ken Jones
Doris McCarthy. Photo by Ken Jones

An Artist’s Legacy

Doris McCarthy’s life’s work finds a permanent home at U of T Scarborough

For more than 70 years, Canadian artist Doris McCarthy celebrated Canada’s diverse and rugged wilderness with her bold and spirited works of art. Now, her creations will be celebrated by University of Toronto Scarborough, the recent recipient of her life’s work.

More than 200 paintings and more than 6,000 pieces of memorabilia – one of the largest gifts-in-kind ever made to the campus – were donated from the estate of McCarthy, who died in 2010 at age 100. The collection will allow U of T Scarborough, where McCarthy completed a BA in English in 1989, to enhance studio and art-history instruction and expand its public art programs. “This important gift enables us to integrate McCarthy’s artistic production more fully into our academic mission,” says Ann MacDonald, director and curator of the Doris McCarthy Gallery and a visual and performing-arts lecturer.

Mary on Murray River Above Murray Bay, 1947
The paintings, created between 1924 and 2006, feature McCarthy’s well-known representational and abstract Canadian landscapes – including her famous depictions of Arctic icebergs. Some of the pieces were exhibited at the gallery in 2010 to mark her centennial birthday. Other donated items include sketches, letters and even diaries.

McCarthy, who taught art for 40 years at Central Technical School in Toronto, was an Order of Canada member whose paintings reside in collections across the country, including at the National Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Skating on the Small Pond, 1967
The landmark donation provides new momentum to U of T Scarborough’s expansion plans, part of which involves building a new and bigger art gallery to showcase the work of McCarthy and other contemporary artists. “This gift has created an infusion of excitement that sets us on a path to fulfil our mandate of becoming an intellectual and cultural hub in the GTA,” says Georgette Zinaty, executive director of development and alumni relations at U of T Scarborough. “It sets us apart in the community as a place to enjoy art.”

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