Gillian Genser

“I have a very feminine approach to my work. I am a gatherer. I go out into nature to see what will present itself. I let the materials guide me.  I wait to hear what they will tell me. Back in my studio, I forge them together with precious metals and stones. My work is an unconscious remedy for what is truly treasure — our endangered natural world.”

In the early 2000’s, artist Gillian Genser began working on a sculpture of the biblical figure of Adam that would transform her life utterly. She hoped to reframe a story of domination, subjugation and control as a narrative that explored the interconnected, symbiotic relationship we have with the natural world. In the process of creation, however, the artist encountered destruction. Through the fine grinding of the mussel shells that formed Adam’s body, Gillian was exposed to some of the very pollutants (arsenic, cadmium and lead) that plague our planet. It was a devastating injury from which she will never fully recover.

Gillian’s story has been covered widely by the international press.

Echoes is her first gallery show.

“Ms. Genser’s sculptures breathe spirit back into remains of life. Her creations depict our connection to the environment, and ultimately our connection to each other.” – Sierra Bein, The Globe and Mail

April 2021, The Globe and Mail: Toronto sculptor Gillian Genser’s new work depicts our connection to the environment, and one another

In December 2018, and again in January 2019, my art and my story went viral in the international media. It appeared in major newspapers across our country, on the continent and then worldwide. I have only listed a few below, but articles were published and broadcast in many languages throughout Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia as well as North and South America.

December 2018, Global News broadcast: Poisoned by environmental sculptures

January 2019, BBC: How a sculptor’s artwork slowly poisoned her

January 2019, Globo News (Brazil): Artista canadense é intoxicada com a própria obra 

January 2019, Ilgiornale (Italy): Gillian Genser, la storia dell’artista avvelenata dalla sua stessa opera d’arte

November 2018, Toronto Life: My beautiful death

December 2018, Washington Post: An artist suffered mysterious symptoms for years. Then she realized her sculpture was poisoning her

December 2018, CBC online article and radio broadcast: This sculptor got heavy metal poisoning from working with mussel shells

December 2018, Daily Mail (UK): Toronto sculptor, 59, shares how she was diagnosed with heavy-metal poisoning after spending 15 years ‘sanding and grinding’ mussels to make her sculptures as it emerges the shells were likely from polluted waters

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